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.
Firstly, if this happens, it will undoubtadly dent Freeview, and I think have a significant impact on ITV DC Ltd advertising revenues, as ITV2 being FTA is currently the most watched digital channel in the UK, with a daily reach of around 6m or so (including ITV2+1). I watch ITV3 quite often, and its a decent channel, even if I find ITV2 and ITV4 a load of codswallop for the mostpart.
However, it could be great News
for other broadcasters, and particuarly TopUp TV, because it would essentially mean half the Mux2's capacity and 1 slot of MuxD's capacity would be freed up, meaning upto 12 timeshared channels, and may pave the way for TopUp TV to get some more twilight hour capacity. Of course it also leads to the worry that a load more gaming channels and the like may end up on DVB.
One has to question though, if Ofcom let ITV get away with this (they have little say in the matter, despite being the regulator, unless they make all ITVDC Ltd channels PSB), then why were Sky rapped when they planned to remove their MuxC channels from FTA and change them over to subscription and maybe even MPEG4. Remember, it was ITV who was one of the leading broadcasters to complain about Sky's plans to remove their MuxC channels, yet ITV are now planning to do it themselves...
The other problem right now is the fact that ITV HD does not have a solid future as FTA on DVB-T2 as it is, the loss of the ITV DC Ltd channels would all but seal it's fate.Digital Spy Report