ITV has been investigating two ideas as potential pay-TV channel launches, Broadcast can reveal.
A group of executives has been analysing the commercial potential for both a channel that airs its archive back catalogue and one that would carry premium US acquisitions.
ITV has made no secret of its desire to increase its pay presence on platforms such as Sky, and Broadcast understands that internal discussions about developing new services have taken place in the past few weeks.
Exploiting ITV Studios’ archive across new platforms is a key strategic priority for the company and it could aim to structure a channel around popular properties.
The production arm owns the rights to shows as diverse as Inspector Morse and Dancing On Ice, and a source pointed to the ratings success of free-to-air channel ITV3 as an example of what can be achieved by exploiting archive content.
However, there is a suggestion that an archive channel could conflict with what ITV is trying to achieve online. Later this year, the broadcaster intends to make 1,000 hours of old programming available to download on ITV Player for a rental charge of £2-4.
The second idea could result in ITV buying in high-end US and international content and creating a ‘VIP-style’ channel that would take on the likes of Comedy Central and FX.
A source suggested it could also play second runs of ITV2’s acquired shows, such as The Vampire Diaries. This would be a more complicated and expensive proposition, requiring detailed negotiations with a range of distributors, but it is thought the idea has support internally.
ITV is understood to be some way off getting a new pay channel on air, but dipped its toe into the market in 2010 when it launched HD versions of ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 on Sky. It is part of a five-year strategy to wean the business off traditional spot advertising.
An ITV spokeswoman declined to comment.