ITV to launch female-skewed net

TOWIEUK broadcaster ITV is expanding its group of free-to-air channels with the launch of a female-skewed channel called ITVBe.

The network will exclusively house programmes such as reality smash The Only Way is Essex (pictured), which is currently on youth-skewed ITV2.

The digital terrestrial network will target 16-34 year-olds with shows such as the Real Housewives… franchise, original comedy Plebs, season two of The Job Lot, panel show Celebrity Juice and the upcoming horror gameshow Release the Hounds.

BSkyB, Virgin and Freeview will be among the platforms carrying the free channel when it launches toward the end of the year.

Adam Crozier, CEO of ITV, said: “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.”

ITV’s director of television Peter Fincham added: “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 remain ITV’s youngest-skewiung channel besides kids net CITV but will skew both male and female, while drama series and collections go on ITV3 and cult classics and sport broadcast on ITV4. ITV Encore is set to launch as ITV’s first pay TV channel later this year on Sky.