The past few years have been eventful for most, but the highs and lows of ITV’s fortunes have been particularly pronounced. Its advertising revenues were hit hard by the pandemic, but the broadcaster bounced back to achieve record advertising in 2021-22. At the end of 2022, there was another watershed moment: it launched ITVX, its heavyweight streaming service to replace ITV Hub with a combined 26,000 hours of ITV and Britbox content. But, this year, its advertising revenues have again slumped.
In conversation with BBC Chief Economics Correspondent Dharshini David, ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall, gives a progress report on ITVX, and talks about the company’s upcoming business challenges.
- Dharshini David, Broadcaster, Economist and Author
- Carolyn McCall, CEO, ITV
The session was part of the RTS Cambridge Convention 2023, with Principal Sponsor Channel 4. The convention took place on 20 - 21 September at King's College, Cambridge.
Session chair Amol Rajan: I understand that ITV has a new product you are keen to talk about: what is ITVX that ITV Hub is not?
Carolyn McCall: ITV Hub was a catch-up service that was launched six or seven years ago with very basic technology. It was a very clunky user experience and it had about 9,000 hours of content. It was never really intended to be a destination….
For ITV, the pandemic forced the company to do some hard thinking. Advertising revenue fell off a cliff in the second quarter of 2020, programme budgets were slashed, and senior executives took voluntary pay cuts.
“Commercially, we were very worried about our cash situation in the first three or four months of the pandemic,” CEO Carolyn McCall told her interviewer, BBC News’s Dharshini David. “We took some dramatically difficult decisions in the first three weeks of the pandemic because we had to preserve our cash.”
The ITV CEO speaks to journalist Dharshini David about the business and public service challenges ahead for the broadcaster.
Carolyn McCall offered a robust defence of public service broadcasting during the course of a revealing and wide-ranging interview at the RTS Digital Convention 2020. ITV’s CEO – who was probed by ITV News London and Loose Women presenter Charlene White – also discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, BritBox, ITV’s digital strategy and its response to the coronavirus epidemic.
McCall said that the first Covid-19 lockdown had “brought home to a lot of people” the importance of having “a trusted [TV] source, [with no] disinformation”.
The Chief Executive of ITV said that the coronavirus epidemic had “brought home to a lot of people” the importance of having “a trusted [TV] source, [with no] disinformation”.
But she warned: “A lot of the stuff that goes on air would not be made if it wasn’t for the fact that there are public service broadcasters.”
McCall called for public service broadcasting, which is currently being reviewed by both media regulator Ofcom and the DCMS committee, to be treated fairly.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, joins Charlene White in conversation as part of the RTS Digital Convention 2020.
Carolyn discusses the importance of PSBs to audiences, BritBox and making on demand bigger and better, the returning market for advertising and how ITV is tackling diversity.
Watch the full session here.