“This is a completely different way of making content for TV,” said Rufus Radcliffe, Managing Director of Streaming at ITV, while outlining the broadcaster’s content strategy for its forthcoming streaming service, ITVX. At Connected TV World Summit last month, he revealed that the company is targeting a base of 23 million viewers, whom it believes are increasingly turning to streaming. Radcliffe said this base already has a relationship with ITV, but that the broadcaster thinks they “can be won back more often.” He outlined how ITVX’s content strategy targets sub-segments of this base, which have been differentiated along the lines of age, VOD usage, and attitudinal statements.
The first sub-segment Radcliffe outlined is ‘Everyday Event-ers’. He said: “They prefer entertainment to drama. They have slightly lower VOD usage and are younger. They want plenty of choice in a content offering and love the big tent-pole shows that ITV delivers.”
Another sub-segment – ‘Socialisers’ – are characterised by viewing VOD as their primary TV destination. This group tends to enjoy shows which are currently trending and serve as “social fuel”, such as The Only Way Is Essex, Real Housewives, and large events like the Brits UK music award ceremony. The ‘Armchair Explorer’ sub-segment are viewers who tend to be more traditional in their ideals and values, and slower to adopt new media behaviours. While they generally have lower tech literacy, Radcliffe said they are “beginning to move into VOD at speed now.” This sub-segment also has a preference for UK content over U.S. content.
The final group Radcliffe outlined are ‘Savvy Streamers’ who tend to be tech-savvy and more open to trying new things and experimenting with their TV consumption. They also have access to a wealth of choice between services but want “quality rather than quantity.”
Radcliffe said: “What we’re doing now is mapping all of the content onto these segments to make sure we can really drive growth on ITVX. All throughout this process, we’ve been listening to viewers and getting feedback. The response has been really positive.”
He also said that the broadcaster would invest £160 million incrementally into content to “super-charge” ITVX, and that more “free and fresh” content would be added to the service on a weekly basis than on any other British streamer.
ITVX will launch with 20 new FAST channels. Additionally, live channels will be included “front and centre” on the service. According to Radcliffe, three million households in the UK only watch TV via broadcaster apps on the their connected TVs. He said: “Live is still incredibly important. Whether you stream or watch in linear – live TV matters. So, alongside our Britishness, the inclusion of live TV will be a significant differentiator between ITVX and U.S. streamers.
“Just for example, during the Euros [UEFA European Championship football competition] last summer, we had over two million viewers streaming matches on ITV Hub. Viewers are increasingly choosing to watch live TV in an online environment.”
The service’s on demand offering will include 15,000 hours of content at launch, with catch-up viewing enhanced by series stacks, newly acquired boxsets, and exclusive commissions. Radcliffe noted that the streamer will be on-boarding ITV’s content partners to “give more volume and breadth of content to our viewers”, and that it would represent “a real step change” from the broadcaster’s approach with ITV Hub.
Radcliffe mentioned that the three streaming brands currently owned by the broadcaster – ITV Hub, ITV Hub+ (an ad-free SVOD tier of the service) and the SVOD Britbox – will be integrated into ITVX. ITV Hub saw 25 million people use the service last year, with over 600 million streaming hours logged, according to Radcliffe. The company currently has 1.2 million subscribers across its SVOD services and, importantly, there is “very little [subscriber] duplication.”
He also noted that ITVX will be offered as a free ad-supported service with the option of a paid SVOD tier. Radcliffe remarked: “We think ‘free’ is a very important message, particularly at a time when consumer confidence is as it is and the market is as it is.”
Radcliffe joked that the branding process for any new service is a “thankless job” but research showed ‘ITVX’ to be the clear winner among possible names for the streamer. He said: “Its got ITV in the name, which gives you a sense of trust, familiarity and quality, but also it’s going to have a whole load more as part of it as well. It will give us the opportunity to not only super-serve existing viewers, but bring in a whole load of new viewers on a regular basis. That’s where X comes in – it’s the ITV you would expect and the ITV you wouldn’t expect as well.”