Popular ITV shows such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale will be made available for catch-up viewing to Virgin Media’s digital TV subscribers, it was announced today.
The four-year deal gives ITV its largest ever potential on-demand audience, with Virgin Media’s 3.5 million TV customers able to view more than 40 hours of programming from ITV1, 2, 3 and 4 each week.
Shows will be made available for seven days after being broadcast as part of Virgin Media’s free catch-up TV service.
Viewers will also be able to choose from 500 hours of ITV’s archive of comedies, documentaries and dramas on demand.
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This collection will be available as part of Virgin Media’s library of programmes which sit within its TV Choice section.
On-demand TV viewing
Ben McOwen Wilson, director of online at ITV, said: ‘Our ambition is make our content as widely available as possible for audiences.
‘We are thrilled to be announcing this deal with Virgin Media at a very exciting time for ITV.
‘We know Virgin Media’s customers consume a lot of content on demand, and we are confident that with the massive appetite and growth of on-demand content across our online sites during 2008 this deal will allow a new wave of viewers to enjoy our content, in a time when the way our audiences watch TV continues to transform.’
ITV high definition
A selection of ITV’s high definition (HD) programming will also be available on demand.
Malcolm Wall, CEO of content at Virgin Media, said: ‘ITV makes some of the country’s most loved TV programmes so we’re delighted to be able to offer so many of them to our customers.
‘We already have the largest and best collection of entertainment available on demand and adding this vast amount of quality content will make our TV offering even more compelling.’
Download TV to your PC
An agreement is also in place that Virgin Media TV subscribers will be able to watch ITV content online via their computers.
More than half of Virgin Media’s TV customers regularly use on demand television in the UK.
Total views of all on demand programmes topped 357 million by the end of the first nine months of 2008 and averaged 45 million views each month in the third quarter of last year.
ITV has also seen a rapid rise in users for its on-demand service, with the average number of plays per month more than doubling since the end of the first quarter of 2008.
Coronation streets ahead
The top ITV show in 2008 was Coronation Street, followed by the X Factor and then Emmerdale.
ITV’s on demand service ITV Player can be found on ITV.com and allows users to view a selection of ITV shows from the last 30 days.
Those behind the deal said the new service would be available very shortly, with an exact date yet to be decided upon.
Virgin Media’s catch-up TV already includes the pick of the last week’s television from the BBC, Channel 4, E4, More4, Bravo, Living and Virgin1.
In December, the BBC launched a range of ideas to generate £120 million for the commercial sector, including sharing its iPlayer and bringing the service to television screens.
One of the BBC’s partnerships – to develop a common industry approach to delivering on demand and internet services to television – is already being developed by a group which includes ITV and BT.
© Press Association 2009
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