ITV, the main commercial broadcaster in the United Kingdom, reported a modest increase in online streams and hours delivered in the first half of 2022 but the number of monthly active users remained flat at just under 10 million. ITV is planning to double its main online video metrics by 2026 with the launch of ITVX. Yet is that enough to transform its fortunes?
ITV Hub reported 814 million streams for the first half of 2022, up 8% year on year. Total streaming hours were up 6% to 523 million, but monthly active users were flat at 9.7 million. Digital revenues were up 22% at £176m. That is out of total group revenue of almost £2 billion for the half year.
ITV does not report how much of its total viewing is online, but although a billion hours a year sounds like a lot, it is less impressive in the context of total television viewing. It works out at about 20 minutes a week per head across nearly 60 million individuals in television homes in the United Kingdom.
The total number of online video subscribers for ITV services was 1.45 million, up 16% on the start of the year. That includes ITV Hub+ and BritBox in the United Kingdom. At the end of 2021 there were 0.73 million BritBox subscribers in the United Kingdom.
BritBox now has 2.7 million international subscribers, up 13% from 2.4 million in six months. It is now available in 8 countries, following its launch in the Nordics. ITV says it has a target of 10-12 million international subscribers by 2030. At this rate, it will need to see adoption accelerate.
ITV reported £176 million in online revenue for the first half of the year, compared to £144 million for the same period the previous year. That includes revenue from online advertising revenue, linear addressable advertising, digital sponsorships and partnerships, competitions and any other revenues from digital business ventures.
In 2021, ITV made £42 million from online subscription revenue and £293 million from online advertising.
With the launch of ITVX on track for the fourth quarter of 2022, the company says it is confident of delivering at least £750 million in annual digital revenues by 2026.
ITV is aiming to double monthly active online users to 20 million by 2026, double the number of subscribers to 2.5 million, and to double streaming hours to 2 billion hours a year.
ITV is moving from ITV Hub as a catch up service with up to 2,000 hours of programming to ITVX with 9,000 hours available at launch. Entire series will be made available at the time of first transmission. There will be 6 linear channels and over 20 custom channels. All will be available free with advertising or as a premium subscription service with an additional 6,000 hours of programming.
To achieve this, ITV is planning to spend an additional £350 million between 2022 and 2026. It will increase spending on online programming from a modest £20 million in 2022 to £160 million in 2023 and a further £160 million over 2024-26. It will spend a further £75 million in technology and data capabilities and £30 million in launch costs.
When ITV first announced its ITVX strategy in March, investors were unprepared and unimpressed. ITV lost a third of its value in a day. ITV appears to have done a better job of explaining its investment plans, but the company is still worth a third less than at the start of the year.