ITV1 is to become the UK's first terrestrial free-to-air television channel to broadcast live to mobile phones, following a deal with 3, the mobile network owned by telco Hutchison Whampoa.
Under an exclusive third-generation (3G) licence, subscribers to 3's British services—who number around 3.5m people—will from the autumn be able to watch ITV's flagship channel and its 'participation' counterpart, ITV Play, for a period of six months, during which time the service will be in development. Advertising breaks will not initially be viewable, and are expected to be available in early 2007.
Customers may be charged for the televised services—which will include hit shows such as Coronation Street, Bad Girls and Emmerdale—though studies suggest that it is doubtful people would be prepared to pay to watch programmes on their handsets. However, should revenue be raised in this way, it would be shared equally between ITV and 3.
Following the end of the agreement with 3, ITV hopes to secure similar deals with other mobile phone service providers in an attempt to boost flagging ratings for ITV1. The commercial broadcaster claims that people who watch TV via their mobiles are likely to be new to ITV1.
Earlier this summer, ITV came to an agreement with Pact, the independent television producers' body, over rights to programmes delivered to viewers by new media formats such as mobile phones. The agreement gives viewers the opportunity to catch up on programmes within the run of any series, or up to 30 days after any show has been broadcast.
Lovelace Consulting | 07.08.2006