Commercial broadcaster ITV has yet to introduce its promised online micropayments system. It is understood that the company will use the Pay Wizard service from MGT to implement transactional programming on its ITV Player online service. Chief executive Adam Crozier said in July 2011: “We plan to have a pay mechanism in place around the turn of the year so that we can test what viewers are willing to pay for”. Reports now suggest it could be months before a consumer proposition is implemented.
The company reiterated in October: “ITV will have a mechanism in place by the end of the year, which will enable us to us to start trialling a variety of pay propositions in early 2012.”
That led many to expect that a micropayment service would be launched early in 2012, but it seems it is still being tested internally. The idea was first proposed back in the middle of 2009.
“We now have MGT’s Pay Wizard mechanism in place, which will enable us to begin to trial our consumer propositions,” said an ITV representative. “Our wider pay strategy is also progressing well, with deals with subscription platforms LoveFilm and Netflix secured in the last month both contributing to our goal of driving new pay revenue streams.”
The idea is for ITV to generate additional revenue streams and to exploit its back catalogue of programming, reducing its reliance on advertising. Whether ITV will be able to derive real revenues directly from viewers, or whether micro-payments will lead to micro revenues, delivering too little too late, remains a key question for the company.
ITV is a partner in YouView, a planned hybrid platform that will bring together broadcast channels and video on demand delivered over broadband. However, the platform itself has no central provision for payment mechanisms.
PayWizard is a payment system developed by MGT, a provider of outsourced customer relationship management services for media companies. The PayWizard platform supports micropayment transactions through an electronic wallet that works across multiple devices, including smart televisions and smart phones.
In the first six months of 2011 ITV reported 180 million long-form video views, up from 110 million for the same period a year before, reaching 10.8 million unique users a month. However, online revenues were only £16 million, or around 25 pence per month for each viewer. That compares to broadcasting revenues of £870 million in the same period.