ITV’s contract with Virgin Media recently ended, and reports suggest it’s now demanding up to £80m per year from the cable TV provider if it wishes to continue carrying the network. A failure to come to an agreement could mean ITV pulling all 16 of its channels from the service. It’s unclear what would happen to the ITV Hub on-demand app service should this scenario arise.
ITV was previously available to Virgin Media for it to broadcast for free. ‘Public service broadcasters’ such as ITV and Channel 4 were not allowed to charge for their transmission, however the Digital Economy Act 2017 means that the channel can demand payment for the first time. Virgin Media currently pays for smaller ITV channels such as ITV2 and ITVBe, but now would be faced with a hefty bill in order to carry the main channel.
Reports suggest ITV was set to ask for around £40m per year, but has surprisingly demanded as much as double that amount. Virgin Media feels it should not have to pay such a steep amount as it believes ITV receives more than enough compensation in the form of advertising revenue. However, ITV saw an 8% decline in advertising revenue in the first half of the year, which contributed to a 16% overall drop in profits.
What does this mean for Virgin Media subscribers?
This is the question that matters the most, and one that for now, unfortunately, doesn’t have an answer. This issue was expected to flare up earlier in the year, closer to the passing of the aforementioned Digital Economy Act 2017. However, it seems like the two companies are willing to hold off on any concrete dealing until ITV’s new CEO takes over in January next year. That means that, until then, you certainly have nothing to worry about if you’re a Virgin Media TV customer.
Should the unthinkable happen and Virgin Media and ITV do ungraciously part ways, then it certainly seems like you would, in theory, no longer be able to watch ITV via your Virgin Media PVR. The bad news is you’d need a new way to watch ITV. The good news is that there’s no shortage of ways to do so, and it shouldn’t cost you much either.
Watch ITV directly through your TV
In fact, the first alternative may have been sat in front of you all along. It may sound silly, but you can most likely get ITV straight through your TV. If it has a built-in Freeview tuner and you have an aerial socket nearby then you can just plug it in, tune it, and receive ITV and its sibling channels. That said, you will need an aerial fitted to your place of residence to receive that signal. If you don’t have one then you could always try a digital indoor aerial – they’re compact, cheap, and simple to set up.
You can see all of our indoor aerial reviews here.
Even better, if you have a smart TV it may well have the ITV Hub app. It’s not just for catch-up – you can also watch ITV live through it. It’s currently available on a whole host of smart-TV sets, including the Sony Bravia range and most Samsungs. It doesn’t cost a penny, although you do need to create an account to use it.
If you want to learn more about smart TV, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide.
Watch ITV with an internet TV box
Any TV streamer worth its salt will offer up the ITV Hub app. Our testing has revealed Best Buy models that cost less than £30, so it’s a super cheap an accessible way to get ITV back on your telly – along with a wide array of other catch-up and on-demand apps, too. As the name suggests, they stream all of their content via an internet connection, so there’s no additional set-up or components required. It is strongly recommended that you have reliable wi-fi and an unlimited broadband data plan, though.
To see which models we recommend click the link to go straight to our Best Buy internet TV boxes.
Watch ITV through your games console
If either of those two methods aren’t for you, there is another solution that may be sitting right under your nose (or, perhaps, your TV). The ITV Hub app is actually supported on both the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation ranges of games consoles, as well as numerous Blu-ray DVD players. Much like you would on an internet TV box, simply search for the ITV Hub app on the device’s app store and download it.
Our guide to watching TV online has all the information you need on enjoying catch-up TV.