ITV Content Boss Kevin Lygo has conceded the public will “take a while to find, understand and fall in love with” new free streamer ITVX, which launches today with a quartet of new dramas and £160M ($194M) cash injection.
ITV unveiled the heavily-revamped version of VoD player ITV Hub almost one year ago and it is replete with thousands of hours of content, while viewers can also pay for BritBox – the British streaming venture that is now solely owned by the commercial pubcaster – as an add-on.
More from Deadline
While “hopefully everyone in the TV industry” understands ITVX, Lygo told Deadline it could “take a while for the people who like to watch ‘tele’ to find it, understand it and fall in love with it.”
“What we’ve got to do is make the public realize that this is a proper streamer like iPlayer or Netflix,” said Lygo. “This is now a destination product with a myriad of shows – some you will be familiar with and some you won’t. We’ve got a great advantage because everyone knows what ITV is but now we’ve stuck an X on the end.”
ITV is in the midst of an ITVX “marketing blitz,” he added, helped by the millions of viewers tuning in daily to watch Qatar 2022 World Cup coverage and the recent series of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!.
From today, ITV Hub apps and desktop versions will automatically switch over to ITVX and the streamer kicks off with four original dramas: A Spy Among Friends, Plebs: Soldiers of Rome, The Confessions of Frannie Langton and Tell Me Everything.
“We feel like the leader in UK drama right now but you can have a really big hit and 20M people won’t have seen it,” added Lygo. “So we can draw people in with these new shows and then keep people within the ITVX universe [with older shows].”
A Spy Among Friends is a big-budget spy thriller starring Damian Lewis and will be followed over the weeks by big bets such as the Helena Bonham Carter-starring Nolly, Jason Isaacs-starring Archie and David Tennant’s Litvinenko.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton and Tell Me Everything are examples of shows that break the mould from your average ITV drama, added Lygo, and the network will take bigger bets on younger-skewing shows, comedies and factual programs that play with tone, along with having a “secret weapon” of a large film library. “We can relax a bit and make things we believe are good rather than worrying too much about getting 5M viewers on a Wednesday night,” he said.
The £160M cash injection will allow ITVX to premiere one new show per week and these shows won’t launch on linear for several months afterwards.
Lygo rejected the notion that this strategy will frustrate older viewers who still abide by the linear schedule.
“Older people are more tech-literate than we give them credit for,” he added. “We will learn over the next six months about what people come to watch, who they are and how long they watch after launch.”
Best of Deadline