McCall’s streaming plan for ITV could be a wrong direction

New ITV boss Carolyn McCall (below) announced some sagging half time earnings this morning – a bit up on a hardly stellar 2017 – and revealed a little more about her ‘direct to consumer’ plans, that is a streaming service to rival the might of Netflix, Amazon Prime and their smaller rivals.

In this she hopes to partner with the BBC and others.

But why should TV viewers, growing increasingly disenchanted with being mugged by broadcasters, sign up for any such thing?

Virgin Media is enduring yet another bout of self-induced embarrassment – assuming it’s capable of being embarrassed, which is debatable – with its botched attempt to force down the price of its deal with UKTV leaving subscribers short of a dozen or so popular channels. All of which are free to air for everyone unless they’re paying a Virgin Media subscription. How does that work?

Are viewers likely to pay for ITV and BBC shows which are also free to air? Maybe they’ll avoid paying the BBC licence fee. Does McCall plan to keep ITV’s best shows for the streaming service?

In the midst of all this ITV’s ad take is more or less static. It’ll be up in the second half of 2018 thanks to the World Cup (although whenever ITV shows an England World Cup match they lose, maybe it’s the malevolent musings of pundit Roy Keane) – but then slow.

ITV did a pretty good job of keeping its head above water in the Adam Crozier era and McCall at least has a few newish ideas. But ITV would do well not to forget that its USP is mass market advertising funded programmes. Setting off in pursuit of the far richer Netflix and Amazon is a dangerous course.

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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.

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