The main commercial television channel in the UK is to offer a broadband catch-up television service, with most programming available free, supported by advertising, through a new online portal.

The web site will allow viewers to watch programmes up to 30 days after they have been broadcast, as well as offering a variety of archive programmes.

It follows the launch of the 4oD broadband video-on-demand service by Channel 4, which is initially attempting a pay-per-view business model.

The majority of ITV programming will be made available free, with the exception of a few premium events, such as sports.

Scheduled to go live at the end of March, the ITV service is likely to be available before the BBC launches its long-awaited iPlayer, which is still subject to approval by the new BBC Trust.

The launch will be overseen by Annelies van den Belt, who joins ITV as managing director of broadband from the Telegraph, where she was new media director. She described it as “an incredibly exciting opportunity to create a world-class broadband presence that will grow ITV’s popularity with a new generation.”

She will report to Jeff Henry, director of the ITV consumer division, who described plans for the broadband portal as “ambitious and well advanced”. She is joined by Tanya Lidstone as head of customer experience and Steve White as head of technology.

The web-based service has been designed by Schematic, a leading American design agency that has developed online sites for a number of major media brands, including the CNN Pipeline and Starz Vongo services.