Looking to offer their online viewers the option of sidetracking the mandatory advert pop-ups, UK terrestrial broadcaster ITV are offering an ad-free version of their catch-up streaming service ‘ITV Player’, though not without an obvious cost.
‘ITV Player Premium’, which has already launched as an option on desktop, will now be available to use on iOS mobile device, namely the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. In doing this, ITV will also become the first ‘commercial broadcaster’ in the UK to provide a commercial-free viewing experience on mobile devices (although public service broadcasters BBC have long been offering ad-free content on mobile through the iPlayer service on iOS and Android).
The premium service, as with the regular app version, offers viewers a chance to catch up on all recent content from the broadcaster’s 5 TV channels (ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV), with the difference of not being interrupted by commercials, while also providing live simulcasts of ITV3 & ITV4 through a WiFi or 3G connection, with ITV expecting in return from the consumer a sum of £3.99 per month.
However, the addition of ‘premium’ service will not remove the original from circulation, with the ‘ad-supported’ free version of the ITV Player ‘mobile’ edition remaining with commercial-based catch-up and live simulcasts of ITV & ITV2 (which will also be offered to paying customers). Current ITV Player users will first be offered the opportunity to sign-up for the ‘premium’ upgrade when they next update their original version of the app, and will presumably remain as a permanent advertisement on the app for its non-paying audience.
ITV Player on mobile’s ‘project manager’ Steven Power summarised the updated service: “As ITV Player on mobile devices continues to grow – over 7 million downloads on iOS to date – it is important we deliver innovative business models and adapt the product to the evolving market. I’m genuinely excited that we’re the first commercial broadcaster to offer viewers the choice to watch content with or without advertising.”
‘Online product director’ James Micklethwait added: “As part of ITV’s ongoing Transformation Plan, a key priority for the online team is to drive new revenue streams by exploiting our content across multiple platforms, and the launch of the ad-free ITV Player app is a further step on that journey.”