Britain's ITV to launch its first pay-TV channel
LONDON Jan 29 (Reuters) - ITV is launching its first pay-TV channel, one dedicated to British drama, exclusively on Sky's satellite and online platforms as part of a new four-year partnership with its pay-TV rival, the UK broadcaster said on Wednesday.
ITV Encore, due to launch later this year, will broadcast re-runs of shows previously transmitted on ITV's free-to-air channels, ITV said, and from 2015 it will also screen original commissions.
"ITV Encore is right in line with our strategy of growing non advertising revenues while at the same time creating even greater opportunities to showcase new drama," ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said.
Drama has been a highlight of ITV schedules in recent years, with shows such as Broadchurch and Downton Abbey helping its main ITV free-to-air channel increase its share of viewing last year for the first time in a decade.
As part of the wider agreement, ITV has renewed the deals that allow Sky to carry its ITV 2, 3 and 4HD channels. The pay-TV company will also be able to use more ITV content, such as catch up and video-on-demand services, in its online offers, and ITV content will be available to rent in Sky Store, ITV said.
Analysts at Liberum welcomed the deal.
"It is increasingly clear ITV is becoming cleverer about monetising its content," they said.
Shares in ITV were up 1.8 percent at 200.2 pence at 1215 GMT.
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