ITV: a digital strategy emerges



It may be hard to quantify what the forthcoming merger of Granada and Carlton into ITV plc will mean for the industry and for consumers. However, an outline of the 'new' ITV's digital strategy is beginning to emerge, writes Hugo Martin, Editor of Digital news.

ITV plans a 'family' of new digital channels which should see ITV increase its footprint in digital homes, where it currently has only its main ITV1 station, ITV News and ITV2.

There will be new stations called ITV Kids and ITV3, which will be aimed at more upmarket viewers and compete with BBC4 and Channel 4. The news should answer accusations that the network lacked a digital strategy since the failure of its ITV Digital venture.

Granada Chairman Charles Allen has said that he is committed to at least two new services. ITV3 will show dramas and more high-brow content than has previously been aired on ITV1. The network will also launch ITV Kids, though this is likely to be a joint venture.

In addition, the new company will explore the case for one or more ITV channels that will show the same programmes as ITV1 but at different times - for instance ITV+1, which would replicate the ITV1 schedule one hour later. The new services rely on repackaging existing ITV content and promoting the new channels from the mass-market ITV1 station. This strategy has proved successful with ITV2.

Different mixes of channels would be broadcast on satellite, through BSkyB, cable and Freeview: in the latter, bandwidth constraints would probably limit ITV to one new channel.