The Plimsoll Productions and Ben Stephenson acquisitions have been praised by ITV executives as “ticking the box on genre and geography,” and they have explained how the soon-to-be-launched streaming service ITVX will draw in larger audiences.
ITV Studios has recently finalised significant agreements to set up a transatlantic talent label within the production division for former Bad Robot executive and BBC Drama Controller Stephenson, as well as to buy a majority stake in Plimsoll, the producer of Hostile Planet and Tiny World, for £103 million ($126 million).
In a press conference following the release of ITV’s half-year results, CEO Carolyn McCall stated that the two historic agreements “tick the box on genre and geography,” enabling the production/distribution arm to enter a new market, natural history, and supporting the drive to produce more high-end scripted hours and collaborate more frequently with American streaming platforms.
As a “unique asset in the realm of production, doing something specialised and doing it brilliantly,” she lauded Plimsoll.
The two transactions, one an acquisition of a business “with a very strong infrastructure of its own,” and the other the establishment of a label by an individual, represent “two very distinct threads of our approach,” McCall continued.
Regarding streaming, McCall dismissed worries that ITV Studios’ capacity to create content for it will be impacted by the teething issues being experienced by Netflix and others by referring to “a lot of outstanding projects in the pipeline.”
The half-year report released today demonstrated progress toward ITV Studios’ goal of doubling its share of total SVoD revenue over the following four years, with turnover increasing 3 percentage points to 19 percent. In comparison to the same period previous year, the amount of scripted hours almost doubled. Although revenues rose 9 percent to £1.9 billion ($2.3 billion), the results revealed a little 3 percent decline in EBITA.
ITVX, which is preparing for a Q4 rollout and will see episodes premiere exclusively months before being granted a linear run, was promoted by McCall and Content Boss Kevin Lygo.
According to Lygo, this tactic will be “exciting for producers as their shows will be watched by more people.”
“Over a year, their shows will have more prominence on television,” he continued. “We can premiere something on ITVX and then air it on the channel six months later, bringing in a new audience and giving ITVX a boost. We believe it to be a complete, positive cycle.
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ITVX wants 15,000 hours of material, so the network recently agreed to a deal with CBS Reality and Anime LTD for 400 hours of animation and real crime programming.
When asked if ITV would look into complaints made to the regulator regarding this year’s Love Island, Lygo only responded that the series would be “reviewed” once it ended on Monday and cited average audience figures of 5M per night. So far, complaints are decreased from last year.
Lygo said that this year was the best one in a long time. Although there is always room for improvement, I’m pleased with the job we’ve done so far.