UK commercial broadcaster ITV is to launch a new female-focused channel, ITVBe, that will feature lifestyle and reality programming and become the exclusive home of flagship reality show The Only Way is Essex.
The channel, which will launch towards the end of the year, will be advertising and sponsorship funded and will be targeted at a younger female audience.
Other shows to be aired on the channel include the Real Housewives franchise, Plebs, The Job Lot and Release the Hounds.
The channel will complement ITV2, targeted at the 16-34 age group, and will expand the number of free-to-air channels offered by the group to seven.
ITV also plans to launch a pay TV channel, ITV Encore, on the BSkyB platform later this year.
“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. 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,” said ITV CEO Adam Crozier.
“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,” said Peter Fincham, director of television.
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