ITV has partnered with Sky to launch ITV Encore, a new pay TV channel dedicated to the very best of ITV’s original British drama output.
The new channel, which will be available to Sky customers at no extra charge, will air some of ITV’s most successful dramas of the past few years and from 2015 will begin commissioning original dramas for the Pay TV channel which ITV said would feature “high quality production values, big name lead actors and compelling narratives penned by some of the UK’s best writers.” The launch of ITV Encore marks the first new ITV channel to launch in some eight years and the broadcasters first Pay TV channel since the demise of ITV Digital in 2002.
The deal to launch ITV Encore is in fact part of a wider ranging 4 year agreement between ITV and Sky. Under said deal, ITV content will now be made available via Sky+HD, Sky Go, NOW TV and Sky Store; ITV Encore will also be made available on NOW TV; ITV Player will launch on the NOW TV Box; and, finally, the two companies have renewed the carriage deals for ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD.
“A key part of our strategy is to become the most watched, most loved and most talked about family of free and pay channels for every household and every advertiser in the UK. ITV’s brilliant dramas contributed to a fantastic on-screen performance last year – we had three out of the top five dramas in 2013, which helped us increase our share of viewing on the main channel for the first time in a decade”, said ITVB Chief Executive Adam Crozier. “The time is absolutely right to build on our successful partnership with Sky with the launch of ITV Encore, which will be an important part of ITV’s family of channels, and will complement ITV3, home to our long-running, classic drama series. ITV Encore is right in line with our strategy of growing non advertising revenues while at the same time creating even greater opportunities to showcase new drama.”
Whole Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB, added: “Our customers love great drama and so we are delighted to bring them exclusive access to a new channel from one of the best loved brands in TV. The wider availability of ITV programmes on our fast-growing connected TV services, including Sky Go, Sky Store and NOW TV, will make Sky stand out as a great place to enjoy ITV, on multiple devices, both at home and on the go. This is good news for Sky customers and a positive way for us to work with ITV in a broad, mutually beneficial partnership.”