When I was kid we never watched ITV in our house. This wasn't some BBC-elitist snobbery going on, there was just nothing on ITV that appealed at all. Even the ITV football highlights in those days were on the day after Match of the Day. They couldn't do comedy, drama was very soapy and the bloody ads always got in the way.Times change, but my attitude to ITV hasn't really. Sure, I've tried Downton Abbey but it wasn't my thing, I dabbled with Whitechapel but the BBC's Ripper Street wiped the floor with it, and I really felt like I could do without the agonies of a small community coming to grip with a child's murder in Broadchurch. The only time I ever visit 113 is for the Champions League coverage - and that's moving to BT Sport from next season.
So for me, the news that ITV Encore is to be a Sky exclusive isn't a particularly big deal. I don't think I've ever watched the HD versions of ITV2 and ITV3 and the few times I've hunted down a film on ITV4 HD it's turned up in upscaled SD only. ITV HD itself used to be useful if I missed the BBC news in HD at 6pm, but now I've got BBC News HD I don't bother with the ITV News at all.
Even the name is something of an oddity - whilst "Encore" may has association with quality it actually means "repeat" or "more". More ITV repeats? No thanks.
But ITV is very popular (just not with me) and no doubt there will be many Virgin Media customers who will be disappointed that they won't see the channel any time soon on their TiVo's. This being a Sky exclusive is a far bigger deal than the absence of Sky Atlantic on VM for the greater British public, so here's what the ITV Encore press release says about the channel not coming soon to our TV's:
TV plc today announced that it would be launching ITV Encore this year, a new pay channel dedicated to the very best of the broadcaster's great British drama.
ITV Encore, which will be available on Sky's platforms, will be ITV's first brand new channel launch in eight years and forms part of a wider four year partnership with Sky - ITV's biggest ever with a platform operator.
The new channel will be home to some of ITV's most successful drama series of recent years. From 2015, it will also screen original commissions with the ITV hallmark of high quality production values, big name lead actors and compelling narratives penned by some of the UK's best writers.
In addition, as part of the wider deal with Sky, ITV content will be made available through Sky's range of connected platforms including Sky+HD, Sky Go, NOW TV and Sky Store.
Adam Crozier, ITV Chief Executive, said:
"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.
"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."
Jeremy Darroch, Sky Chief Executive, said:
"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."
In addition to being available on Sky's satellite platform, ITV Encore will also be available on NOW TV, Sky's internet TV service. The wider deal with Sky includes:
· launch of ITV catch up and archive VOD and simulcast of ITV channels on Sky Go, together with launch of ITV Player on the NOW TV box
· renewal of the carriage deal for ITV 2, 3 and 4 HD and ITV catch up and archive VOD on the Sky+ HD platform, including an extended range of high quality TV box sets
· availability of ITV content on a rental basis in Sky Store