ITV To Launch Free-To-Air Channel ITVBe, ‘TOWIE’ & ‘Real Housewives’ Franchise To Anchor Schedule

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ITV is adding another entry to their growing channels business.

The commercial broadcaster has announced that they are to launch ITVBe, a free-to-air channel which will be carried on every major platform including Sky, Freeview and Virgin. The new channel will have a focus on lifestyle and reality programming from both the US and the UK. Designed to compliment the youth-skewing ITV2, which will now have a greater focus on scripted series, ITVBe is aimed at a younger female audience and at launch will become the home of The Only Way Is Essex and the Real Housewives Franchise, both of which currently air on ITV2.

The announcement of the launch of this new channel comes as competition in the female-skewing space has been increasing. ITVBe will find themselves directly competing with the likes of TLC UK, Lifetime UK and (to a lesser extent) Sky Living. ITV’s plans to launch this new channel also comes only weeks after the company announced plans to launch ITV Encore, a drama channel available exclusively through Sky’s pay TV platform which will feature ITV’s most iconic original dramas and will commission original productions by 2015.

“ITVBe will be a terrific new addition to our family of channels. It reinforces our plan to maximise audiences and revenues from our broadcasting business”, said Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV. “Alongside our recently announced new pay channel ITV Encore, this is another important step forward in our strategy 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.

While Peter Fincham, ITV’s Director of Television, added: “Expanding ITV’s family of channels to introduce a new free-to-air, female skewing channel focusing on entertainment and reality means our viewers will have access to even more great content. We identified an opportunity to develop what is currently part of the ITV2 schedule – reality and non-scripted shows, which are very popular with young women and housewives with kids – into a distinct channel proposition, aimed more squarely at that audience. ITV2 will continue to be the youngest channel in our portfolio, outside of CITV, and the strategy of bringing more scripted series, both acquired and commissioned, will continue apace, alongside panel shows, formats and other young skewing commissions.”