If you’re a millennial who spent their childhood flicking between four or five channels, the modern age of digital TV is still something not to be taken for granted. Following the introduction of Sky at the end of the 80s, the choice was pretty much just Sky or terrestrial TV.
Then everything changed when Netflix launched.
Since then, TV has almost disappeared entirely. Even if you still watch traditional TV via Freeview or Sky, the concept of watching a TV show when it's aired is almost completely unheard of these days. On-Demand, catch-up and streaming a show whenever we want is just how we watch TV these days.
In an effort not to become irrelevant, pretty much every TV network you can think of has launched its own streaming service. Peacock, Paramount+ and Discovery+ are just a few US networks that have moved away from an old-fashioned TV channel setup.
Here in the UK, we’ve long had access to BBC content via BBC iPlayer and now ITV is keen to carve out its own audience within the streaming space as it prepares to launch ITVX.
On 3 March 2022, ITV officially announced the launch of the first UK streaming platform to combine both subscription-funded and advertising-funded services with ITVX.
Viewers will be able to watch thousands of hours of ITV content for free with a paid version available for ad-free viewing.
Carolyn McCall, ITV’s Chief Executive said:
“We are supercharging our streaming business, fundamentally shifting our focus to think digital-first, as well as optimising our broadcast channels, by continuing to attract unrivalled mass audiences. In doing so we are responding to changing viewing habits, but also the evolving needs from our advertisers. This will enable ITV to continue to be both commercial viewers and advertisers’ first choice.”
This is not ITV’s first foray into the streaming world, having previously joined forces with BBC to create BritBox, a subscription service that gives viewers access to the best of British TV. It has everything from The Only Way is Essex to BBC Rome and exclusives like the new series of Doctor Who and Spitting Image.
BritBox will still remain in operation, with ITVX customers on paid plans receiving access to BritBox content as part of their subscription. Until ITVX is fully launched later in the year, ITV Hub and BritBox will continue to operate as normal. After that, the two platforms will come together in ITVX which will be the new streaming home of ITV.
Rufus Radcliffe, ITV’s Managing Director of Streaming, said:
“2021 was a record year for ITV Hub and BritBox, giving us strong foundations from which to supercharge our streaming strategy. We are investing significantly in new and exclusive programmes which will be free to stream, and also in technology and product design to make the viewer experience and interface a premium one on ITVX.”
The price of the ITVX paid subscriptions has yet to be announced, but you’ll definitely have the option to access the platform for free if you’re willing to watch some ads.
Traditional TV is still extremely popular across the UK, mainly because Freeview means that you can still access a number of TV channels without having to pay anything.
But with platforms like BBC iPlayer, All4 and ITVX, which offer great content without subscription fees whenever you want, it’s only a matter of time before traditional TV goes the way of VHS tapes and Blockbuster Video.