The ability of ITV’s streaming platform ITVX to host bolder and more niche shows, and ITV2’s planned reboot of Big Brother, were the focus of the broadcaster’s Edinburgh TV Festival session.
ITV will switch off established offerings ITV Hub and BritBox in November and replace them with the expanded service, which will debut one original drama per week.
This translates to commissioning 50% more drama, much of it with young audiences in mind. Key dramas will premiere on the platform several months before their ITV linear broadcast, including A Spy Against Friends, Russell T Davies' Nolly and Lenny Henry's Three Little Birds.
ITV managing director, media and entertainment Kevin Lygo said that in both scripted and unscripted, it will “tackle subjects that we would be more nervous about on the main channel”.
Lygo said that it was in part an answer to an age-old question of how to reach viewers that do not watch early-evening soap operas and therefore miss out on much of the on-screen marketing of primetime shows that follow later in the schedules.
“We’ve lost, say, five million, viewers over the past few years and want to show them there are thousands of hours of shows they can watch, a lot of them new and shiny,” Lygo said.
The commissioning team also confirmed that recent entertainment launches The Games and Walk the Line would not return and that it had shelved a mooted reunion show of Pop Idol.
Meanwhile, ITV is nailing its colours to the mast on reality and is looking for a third format to join Love Island and next year’s return of Big Brother.
Lygo - who commissioned the first Big Brother series when at Channel 4 - said the Endemol format is "arguably the most extraordinary thing that’s ever been on television".
Lygo said he expected “fond memories” of Big Brother's earlier series would mean the show reaches a slightly older audience than Love Island.
But he said he was buoyed by that summer staple’s ability to command 3m viewers a night, “defying logic” with its committed young demographic.
He vowed that duty of care on such reality shows is “uppermost in producers’ minds” following incidents liked to both Love Island and the Jeremy Kyle Show. “We have come on in leaps and bounds,” he said.
ITVX factual commissions
- Rolf Harris: Hiding in Plain Sight (w/t)
Optomen, 2 x 60 minutes
Executive producers: Tina Flintoff, Nick Hornby
- The Royal Family [w/t]
72 Films, 5 x 60 minutes
Series producers: Ella Wright and Kate Quine
Executive producer: David Glover
- A Year on Planet Earth
Plimsoll Productions, tbc episodes
Executive producers: Tom Hugh-Jones, Dr Martha Holmes
- A Murder In the Family
Knickerbockerglory TV, 3 x 60 minutes
Series producer: Cathy Durbin
Executive producer: Jonathan Stadlen
- Laura Whitmore Investigates
Rumpus Media, 2 x 60 minutes
Executive producer: Fintan Maguire