On Monday 9 June, ITV launched its new pay-for TV channel, in conjunction with Sky. The channel in question, ITV Encore, is ITV’s first venture into the pay TV world and will be dedicated to showing the very best of British drama and entertainment that ITV has to offer. Initially, the channel will focus predominantly on showing repeats of some of ITV’s biggest dramatic hits from the past few years. For example this week, in its first week on air, ITV Encore’s schedule includes all 8 episodes of the hit series Broadchurch, alongside favourites Inspector Wexford, Kavanagh QC, Lucan and the ever-popular Poirot.
As a result of a four-year partnership, the channel will be exclusively available on Sky, a deal that reflects Sky’s intentions to focus progressively more on drama and entertainment. This is a move consistent with Sky’s recent purchases of, among others, Virgin’s Living and Bravo channels, as the broadcaster broadens the scope of its channel portfolio. The deal will also allow for ITV series to be available via Sky’s On-demand and Sky Go services, with subscribers able to stream whole box-sets of their favourite ITV titles.
ITV Encore will be followed later in the year by another new channel, ITVBe, a channel primarily aimed at young women that unlike Encore will be available via Freeview and Virgin as well as Sky. The channel will expand ITV’s family of channels to seven and will focus predominantly on lifestyle and reality programmes from both the US and UK, such as The Only Way Is Essex. ITVBe is expected to launch at the end of Summer 2014.