ITV looks at paid-for previews

UK free-to-air broadcaster ITV is looking at making preview episodes of its shows available on-demand for £1 or £2 per episode.

Carolyn Fairbairn, group director of development and strategy at the UK broadcaster revealed the plans at the Digital TV World Summit, organised by TBIVision’s parent company Informa Telecoms & Media.

“We think people might pay for preview episodes, £1 or £2 to see the next episode of a series. Along with other large media owners we’re thinking about [charging for content],” she said.

Fairbairn said that ITV is working to in-house projections of 20% of all viewing being on-demand by 2013, compared with 4% today. It is keen to roll out pay TV on-demand services on Canvas, the proposed on-demand technology specification that would enable TVs to receive broadband delivered on demand services and content.

“In our view Canvas is the next generation of Freeview. We know the audience wants more and we think that there will be a pay upgrade path, we think that [all of the partners] think that, although it won’t be mandated at launch,” Fairbairn said. Canvas needs approval from the BBC Trust, but should launch in Q3 next year.

ITV was also keen to flag the success of its ITV2 digital channel, which it says regularly beats free-to-air counterpart Five and has just overtaken UK pay TV operator BSkyB’s flagship entertainment channel Sky1 in Sky homes. Fairbairn said ITV is weighing putting extra cash into ITV2 to build on its rating position. “We’re looking at whether there is a case for significant added investment in ITV2,” she said.