ITVBe: Does ITV really need another channel?

ITV have announced the launch of a new channel, ITVBe, and the first few original commissions.

ITV have announced the launch of a new channel, ITVBe, and the first few original commissions. This new channel is expected to launch later in the year and comes hot on the heels of ITV Encore, which began broadcasting in June this year as part of ITV’s four-year partnership with Sky.

But with the BBC having to axe BBC Three and the general transition to online television viewing, does ITV really need yet another channel?

New programming

The name of the new channel implies content that is more lifestyle-orientated– ITV state that it will appeal to a younger, female demographic. While you might think this is just another platform to show repeats, there will be a string of new commissions for ITVBe to ensure viewers are excited by the corporation’s latest expansion. 

All of the new programmes have pretty self-explanatory names: Baby Wears Prada (focusing on the buyers and sellers of designer children’s wear), Real Housewives of Cheshire (the UK answer to the popular American ‘Real Housewives’ franchise) and a revamped-for-peak-time version of current show, Dinner Date.

ITV’s Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, Angela Jain, said: “ITVBe completes our portfolio of channels which will offer viewer breadth and choice.”

To me though, it seems that the arrival of this new channel would somewhat invalidate the purpose of ITV2 which is labelled as “the home of infectious entertainment.” It is only a matter of time before ITV2 and ITVBe start sharing programming and ITVBe just becomes a cooler version of its older sister channel.

ITV2 won Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards last year but it seems unlikely to repeat this success if its content is diluted and shared with a new channel. Having said that, the new channel will probably have some success if it to become the exclusive home of the ever-lengthening scripted soap-opera, The Only Way Is Essex (more commonly referred to as TOWIE), which regularly attracts over 1 million viewers per episode.

Online viewing

With the growing tendency for more and more viewers to watch TV on-demand and subscribe to Internet streaming media like Netflix, one has to wonder whether in decades to come people will still be watching programmes as dictated by TV schedules.

The BBC even had to axe the popular channel BBC Three as part of their multi-million pound cuts to make savings at the corporation. But the channel won’t be lost completely, instead becoming an online-only channel by autumn 2015. This has already had moderate success with series like ‘Bad Education’ releasing the first episode of the latest series on BBC iPlayer first.

Perhaps the BBC have the right idea by foreseeing the popularity of watching TV online and on demand rather than adding to their catalogue of channels. While we might be angry at the loss of BBC Three, by next year watching TV online might not be as difficult a transition.

As for ITVBe, the success of the new channel will be determined by the quality of the content and how much it will be able to distance itself from sister channel, ITV2. If it’s simply providing a new platform for reruns, then it might be doomed before it’s even begun.

What do you think? Will ITV’s new channel ITVBe be a success or should ITV invest more in making more programmes available online? Have your say in the comments section below.