ITV’s Adam Crozier unveils new pay TV strategy

Well a bit of it anyway, announcing today that it will launch ITV 2,3 and 4 (its digital channels) in high definition behind the Sky pay wall.

New ITV CEO Crozier will be aware that this is just dipping a toe in the water of pay TV even though he says he expects ITV to end up with 50 per cent of its income coming from “non-TV advertising sources.”

Beyond a full merger with Sky it’s hard to see how he’s going to achieve this. James Murdoch had much the same idea when, as boss of Sky, he splashed out the best part of £1bn to buy 17.5 per cent of ITV a couple of years ago (Sky has since had to reduce its stake at a thumping loss).

Crozier’s chairman, former grocer Archie Norman, has also said that ITV needs to make more money from its production arm ITV Studios which has hired former Channel 4 programme boss Kevin Lygo to do just that. In the short term making better programmes and flogging them to the rest of the world (former boss Michael Grade’s strategy) looks a better bet for extra revenue.

Actually dear old advertising came through for ITV as Crozier announced first half profits of £97m compared to a loss in the same period last year of £105m.

This was boosted by the run-up to the World Cup and a slowly reviving UK economy.

Assuming the latter manages to withstand the ravages of coalition government chancellor George Osborne’s draconian cuts and tax rises, Crozier and Norman may find that a turnaround plan plan based on advertising has a lot going for it.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.