UK broadcaster ITV will offer viewers the chance to see future episodes of their favourite shows online before they are broadcast on TV.
The move is part of ITV’s new online strategy, which is likely to be rolled out later this year following the launch of the new ITV Player.
The broadcaster has been preparing to launch an online pay mechanism for its VoD site for several months, and trials began in June.
About 5,000 people will take part in the controlled testing, ahead of plans to open up beta trials by the end of the summer.
At that point, everyone who visits the ITV Player site will be offered the chance to use the new player, which will have an improved seven-day catch-up service akin to that already available.
In addition, users who register will be able to use a 30-day catch-up service and have the chance to rent content older than 30 days for a one-month period.
Rental pricing points have not yet been confirmed, but will range from 50p (US¢78) per episode to between £2.99 and £4.00 for an entire season. At first, download-to-own will not be available.
Initially more than 1,000 hours of archive content will be available on the new player, ranging from drama and comedy to reality show The Only Way is Essex.
ITV is also looking at introducing a recommendations algorithm that will use registered viewers’ previous history to offer suggestions of other shows they might be interested in.
The new online player is one part of ITV’s digital pay strategy, which also includes selling rights to third-party platforms, such as Netflix and LoveFilm.
Fru Hazlitt, MD of commercial and online at ITV, told the MarketForce Future of Broadcasting conference in London yesterday: “Introducing a mixed economy of free and pay content on-demand through our ITV Player allows us to offer the five million consumers who already come to ITV Player online every month the chance to access a wider range of content – offering them a little bit more for a little bit more.”
She added: “We will also look to trial premieres of shows later in the year, offering audiences the opportunity to watch the next episode straight away without having to wait for broadcast.”