ITV launches ad-free ITV Hub+ subscription service
James R | On 10, Dec 2016
Just over a year since its launch, ITV Hub is launching a new subscription service, ITV Hub+.
ITV Hub has grown since it replaced ITV Player and now has more than 17 million registered users, with half of all 16-24 year olds in the UK registered on the service. In the last year, it has racked up a billion long form requests, with the number of hours watched up by 43 per cent. Given ITV’s focus on reality TV and game show events, the site sees around 30 per cent of its viewing taken up by live streaming.
ITV Hub+, it’s new ‘freemium’ service, will allow users to pay for enhanced features on the broadcaster’s catch-up platform. So far, the only confirmed features are offline viewing and a lack of adverts, not unlike the YouTube Red package offered to US streamers for $9.99 a month. That subscription service, however, includes exclusive and original content as well as no adverts and downloads.
ITV Hub+ costs £3.99 for users to enjoy ITV programmes without interruption. Hub+ is built into the current ITV Hub, offering viewers all of the content already available on the service. ITV is the only commercial broadcaster in the UK to offer a standalone subscription for ad-free viewing – a marked adjustment from its traditional commercial-based revenue generated through linear viewing. Indeed, the BBC earns its money through the TV Licence, which is required for anyone using BBC iPlayer. A TV Licence is still required for anyone using ITV Hub to watch programmes live, but ITV Hub+ would be able to be used on-demand without a TV Licence, which could be a cord-cutting package to appeal to young viewers, presuming they never watch any live TV and never use iPlayer. Live TV will presumably still be available for ITV Hub+ subscribers, but it is not yet clear how that will affect ad-breaks during broadcasts.
ITV Hub+ has run as a successful pilot on iOS devices only, but is due to be rolled out across more platforms. In the coming months, Hub+ users will be able to access their service on PC browsers and connected TVs. This Christmas, ITV will introduce downloads for iOS devices, allowing Hub+ users the opportunity to watch ITV programmes offline.
The roll out of ITV Hub+ is one of a number of new initiatives planned for the ITV Hub in 2017. These include increased levels of personalisation as well as investment in original and acquired content. Indeed, this week the Hub will launch the first exclusive box set (You’ve Been T@gged) from ITV’s new partnership with Awesomeness TV, and in January the Hub and ITV’s social platforms will broadcast The Voice’s switch over show, The V Room, hosted by Cel Spellman. Both will be available on ITV Hub as well as on ITV Hub+.
Paul Kanareck, ITV’s Group Director of Online, says: “Viewers have always understood the trade off between paying to view content and watching adverts. With the development of the ITV Hub, we can now offer viewers a choice – to keep watching for free, or to pay to watch without interruptions if that’s important to them. We’ve moved from a single content proposition, as a catch up service, to a more comprehensive offering and Hub+ is a great example of what we can do to further personalise a user’s experience.”