ITV announces new channel ITVBe

ITVITV have confirmed another new channel launch weeks after announcing ITV Encore.

The new channel announced today is ITVBe which will be a free-to-air channel “featuring the best entertaining lifestyle and reality programming from the UK and the US” according to the official ITV press release.

ITV say “the new channel, which is likely to appeal to a younger, female audience, will also feature acquired content, including the US Real Housewives franchise, which currently airs in daytime on ITV2… ITVBe will complement ITV2 which will continue to strengthen its position as the home of unashamed entertainment for 16-34 year olds, focusing on scripted series, irreverent panel shows and formats, and youth skewing commissions and acquisitions with bold humour at their heart”.

ITVBe will also become the exclusive home for The Only Way Is Essex.

The difference between ITVBe and ITV Encore is the latter is a pay channel – this will likely mean you’ll need to be a Sky customer (i.e. not free-to-view or free-to-air), and not have to pay a subscription for the channel itself – whereas ITVBe will be completely free.

ITV say ITVBe will launch towards the end of the year and will be “available free on all the major broadcasting platforms, including Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media”.

Read the ITV press release in full.

ITV Encore launching this year

ITVITV have announced a brand new pay channel, ITV Encore, due to be launched this year on Sky.

ITV Encore will air the best of ITV’s British drama – the official announcement says “the new channel will be home to some of ITV’s most successful drama series of recent years. From 2015, it will also screen original commissions with the ITV hallmark of high quality production values, big name lead actors and compelling narratives penned by some of the UK’s best writers”.

ITV content will also now be made available through Sky’s range of connected products – Sky+HD, Sky Go, NOW TV and Sky Store. Carriage renewals have also been announced for ITV2, ITV4, ITV4 and ITV’s catchup & on demand services on the Sky+HD platform.

ITV Chief Executive Adam Crozier has said “the time is absolutely right to build on our successful partnership with Sky with the launch of ITV Encore, which will be an important part of ITV’s family of channels, and will complement ITV3, home to our long-running, classic drama series. ITV Encore is right in line with our strategy of growing non advertising revenues while at the same time creating even greater opportunities to showcase new drama”.

Although the new channel is advertised as a “pay channel” this will likely just mean you’ll need to be a Sky customer (i.e. not free-to-view or free-to-air), and not have to pay a subscription for the channel itself.

Click here to read ITV’s announcement in full.

ITV’s shopping channel The Store launched

ITV’s new 24-hour shopping channel (in partnership with JML Direct) has launched.

The Store – based on the name of ITV’s late night shopping strand – is available on Sky channel 642.

The new channel is also available part-time on Freeview channel 39 between 6pm and 1am.


ITV1 has rebranded as ITV

A huge rebrand of the ITV network of channels has taken place today.

The changes see ITV1 renaming back to its original name of ITV (names for ITV2/3/4/CITV remain unchanged).

Your EPG will reflect the new channel name for ITV.

ITV1 HD has also been renamed as ITV HD as part of the rebrand, and ITV1 +1 has become ITV +1.


ITV considering subscription-only

According to reports, ITV are considering making their digital channels into subscription-only offerings.

The Guardian says “ITV has held talks with BSkyB about switching its advertiser-funded free-to-air digital channels such as ITV2 to subscription, meaning they would no longer be available to Freeview viewers”. It’s being considered due to the downturn in advertising revenue recently. This would mean ITV channels would be pulled from Freeview where they currently are free-to-air if they decide to go ahead with the subscription-only strategy.Click here to read more on The Guardian website.

ITV Player coming to Virgin TV On Demand

ITV’s catch up TV service ITV Player is launching on Virgin Media soon, it has been announced. Virgin Media has reached a deal with ITV to offer the service on its TV service. A press release on Virgin Media’s website today says “the agreement will give ITV its largest ever potential on demand audience, with Virgin Media’s 3.5 million TV customers able to view over 40 hours of top quality programming from ITV1, 2, 3 and 4 each week”. Programmes will be available on Virgin Media’s Catch Up TV On Demand service for seven days after they’re broadcast.

There’ll also be a catalogue of old programmes available in Virgin Media’s TV Choice On Demand section – Virgin Media says “viewers will also be able to choose from 500 hours of award-winning ITV comedies, documentaries and dramas, all ready to watch at any time on demand”. The press release says a selection of high definition programmes will also be available On Demand.

Click here to read the Virgin Media press release in full.

HD channels on Freeview from next year

High definition will be available on Freeview for the first time from the end of next year. It has been announced that three HD channels will be launching on Freeview next year – one will be BBC HD, the second will be ITV HD and the third is Channel 4 HD. These HD channels will only appear in regions that are digital only, so this is why only certain areas will get the HD channels in 2009 and it will be staggered across the country as and when digital switchover completes in each region, finishing off with the London area in 2012.

The BBC isn’t sure on what content will appear on the Freeview version of the BBC HD channel but it’s thought to either be exactly the same as the BBC HD service on satellite & Virgin Media cable, or a variation of it – it’s not known what the broadcast hours will be on Freeview. The ITV HD channel on Freeview will air an exact simulcast of the normal ITV1 schedule and The Register says ITV will “sub-let the channel to others outside prime time”. Channel 4 HD on Freeview will also air the same as schedule as the normal Channel 4 – it’s not known if Channel 4 HD will be on air for 24 hours a day. An as-yet unnamed fourth HD channel will be announced at a later date. You will need to buy a new Freeview HD set top box to watch the high definition channels. Click here to see the Ofcom news article.