ITV PREPARES TO ‘SUPERCHARGE STREAMING’ WITH ITVX SERVICE

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Deep Bagchee, Chief Product Officer at ITV, will detail the broadcaster’s plans for innovative new streaming service ITVX during his IBC Conference session today

With several leading global services recently discussing the possibility of ad-supported tiers alongside existing subscription offers, it’s apparent that streaming is on the cusp of an intriguing new phase in its evolution. For UK-based broadcaster ITV, these developments must surely confirm the validity of its own recent work creating a new streaming platform, ITVX, which is due to launch later this year.

Billed as the UK’s first integrated advertising and subscription (AVOD/SVOD) platform, ITVX is being built on a new technical and user architecture, underpinned by a significantly enhanced data capability. In a marked change to its traditional approach, ITVX will also see the broadcaster adopt a “digital first windowing” strategy – premiering much of its content first on the streaming platform before subsequent screening on ITV linear channels.

The new service will be a primary talking point in the IBC Conference session entitled From Broadcast to Streaming, taking place on 9 September (12:15-13:00), where ITV Chief Product Officer Deep Bagchee will appear alongside chair Maria Rua Aguete, who is Senior Research Director, Media & Entertainment, Technology Fellow at research and consulting firm Omdia.

Referring to the name of the session, Bagchee confirms that the broadcaster does regard broadcast and streaming as being on the same continuum. “ITV has a unique structure in that we have a Media & Entertainment division that includes broadcast and streaming,” he says. “When we make decisions on commissioning new programmes or how we roll-out new shows, we can look at things holistically and in terms of broadcast scheduling or what we do on streaming.”

A new destination, not a catch-up service

This architecture has doubtless been beneficial as the broadcaster has developed ITVX, which is intended to be “a destination for discovery”, says Bagchee. “For a long time in this space, our main site, ITV Hub, was largely seen as a catch-up service. Our goal with ITVX is that it becomes, in its own right, a place you go to look for programmes. So it has a new brand and design language, and is a completely redesigned service with a new user interface.” Plenty of shows have already been commissioned, while the service will also find ITV “leaning into its live programming” credentials for sports and other event coverage.

Acknowledging the remarkable growth of FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) channels in the US, ITVX will also host an evolving inventory of themed and pop-up channels as part of a “curated” viewing experience. “FAST channels are definitely a place for people who want to discover content, but who sometimes feel overwhelmed by sifting through loads of stuff and are more used to the ‘lean-back’ experience that you get with [an EPG front-end],” says Bagchee. “FAST will allow them to dive in and out of [different genres and programmes] quickly and easily.”

Combining a free service supported by adverts with a “compelling” subscription proposition, ITVX’s arrival onto the increasingly dynamic streaming market is awaited with interest. Like many industry participants, Bagchee agrees that the pandemic had a profound impact on streaming, “driving up the viewing levels as people had more time to view. The industry is moving more and more towards streaming, and what you now see is that advertisers and broadcasters have a great ability to match audiences.” In ITV’s case, the construction of an integrated SVOD/AVOD platform will mean that it always has access to “a single source of truth” about its viewers, making it easier to “build great customer experiences”.

News Source: IBC