ITV may move digital channels to pay model

Wednesday, June 3 2009,

ITV is considering moving free-to-air digital channels ITV2, 3 and 4 to a subscription, pay TV model.

According to The Guardian, ITV has already held talks with Sky about making such a switch, which would represent a dramatic shift away from a free-to-air content-led recovery strategy that has seen ITV play a key role in Freeview and Freesat and make ITV2 the most-watched mainstream digital channel.

A switch to pay TV distribution would result in ITV receiving a share of the revenues earned from the Sky's retailing of the channel mix, or mixes, that ITV's channels would be carried in. A separate deal would need to be negotiated with other providers, such as Virgin Media and Smallworld cable, and it is not known how such a move would impact ITV's involvement in the wider free television landscape.

Pulling ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 from free-to-air provision, which would be required for Sky to share subscription revenues in the form of carriage fees, would leave ITV1 and CITV as the broadcaster's channel offering on Freeview, with only ITV1, ITV HD, CITV and Men and Motors left on Freesat.