The Only Way Is Essex is moving to a new channel launched by ITV.
Dubbed ITVBe, the channel will be the new home of the Essex-based reality TV show and will also feature programmes and shows aimed at a “younger, female audience”.
The channel will also feature lifestyle and reality programming from the UK and the US. It will be launched towards the end of the year, although no set date has be given at the time of writing. It will be available free on all major broadcasting platforms, including Freeview, Sky and Virgin.
ITVBe will complement ITV2, which will now shift its focus to entertainment programming for 16-34 year olds, concentrating on scripted series, panel shows and formats, and commissions and acquisitions skewed towards a youth audience.
“ITVBe will be a terrific new addition to our family of channels,” said Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV. “It reinforces our plan to maximise audiences and revenues from our broadcasting business. Alongside our recently announced new pay channel ITV Encore, this is another important step forward in our strategy to become the most watched, most loved and most talked about family of free and pay channels for every household and every advertiser in the UK.”
ITV director of television Peter Fincham said: “We identified an opportunity to develop what is currently part of the ITV2 schedule – reality and non-scripted shows, which are very popular with young women and housewives with kids – into a distinct channel proposition, aimed more squarely at that audience. ITV2 will continue to be the youngest channel in our portfolio, outside of CITV, and the strategy of bringing more scripted series, both acquired and commissioned, will continue apace, alongside panel shows, formats and other young skewing commissions.”
As reported by Recombu, the channel launch comes just days after the broadcaster launched a new satellite channel ITV Encore. That channel will focus on the broadcaster’s British drama output.