It’s hard to believe, but ITVX – the new kid on the UK’s streaming block – has been making waves for more than six months now.
After its debut in December 2022 (technically we got it before that – it soft-launched back in November 2022), ITVX seemed poised to change the face of streaming television in the UK.
With a plethora of content, boasting 20,000 hours of both UK and US series, movies, single-episode shows, and new exclusives dropping every week, it certainly came packing.
However, has this fledgling service soared to the streaming stratosphere or hit turbulence on its ascent? You’ll hear people saying both. Let’s take a look.
What’s ITVX All About?
ITVX is ITV’s shiny 6-months-old streaming app, taking the baton from the ITV Hub app. The service is free but comes with adverts, and it’s gunning to go head-to-head with big players like Netflix and Disney+.
At launch, ITVX rolled out with a hefty 10,000+ hours of on-demand content including 35 flagship shows, over 200 series, and upwards of 250 films, and they’re not stopping there – new content is added regularly (next month, for example, ITVX is getting nine Star Trek films).
Besides the on-demand treasure, ITVX allows you to stream all of ITV’s live channels and even offers special themed channels dedicated to a single series or theme, with one featuring British Sign Language.
Take note, though, ITVX’s live channels are not available on Freeview Play devices and TVs, except Samsung and – recently – LG.
Not a fan of adverts? ITVX also has a Premium tier for £5.99/month or £59.99/year.
Going Premium not only ditches the ads but also gives you access to the BritBox library, loaded with over 4,000 hours of classic British content, as well as picks from Studio Canal Presents – another standalone streaming service.
ITVX: The Highs
Undeniably, ITVX has had its share of triumphs. Within four months of launch, it clocked in a staggering one billion streams, a feat that took its parent ITV Hub nearly seven months to achieve in its previous record year of 2022.
The new Love Island series alone contributed greatly to this phenomenon, having already clocked in 182 million streams in 2023, with a massive 9.2 million streams on the launch day of series 10 – a year-on-year increase of 112%.
For those with a penchant for variety, ITVX has become a proverbial buffet. Access to Premium content is now available on over 22 different platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple, and even on LG devices via Freeview Play for live content.
The age group of 16-34 year-olds has been lapping up the content according to ITV, accounting for over a quarter of ITVX’s streaming hours.
The nostalgia play is evident, with 25% of Broadchurch’s streaming hours, 35% of Bad Girls, and 37% of Footballers Wives coming from this demographic.
The American drama section is also a hit among them, with 47% of The O.C.’s streaming hours, 52% of The Vampire Diaries, and 59% of One Tree Hill streaming hours attributed to this age group.
Furthermore, awareness of ITVX is impressively high, at 85% among adults, and an even higher 90% among ITV’s target “lighter” viewers.
ITVX: The Lows
Despite the promising numbers, ITVX has not been without its fair share of potholes.
Social media has been buzzing with criticism, particularly regarding technical glitches that have plagued the service from the start – and are still there, at least for some – who are getting angry:
@ITVX this is the biggest load of rubbish ever to be put on a television you have to keep searching programs that are currently available when you finished watching and you want to leave the app it freezes and leaves you with a black screen please bring back ITVHUB
— STUART HARDING (@stujac1) June 7, 2023
These issues range from streaming hiccups to compatibility problems with certain devices.
@ITVX you need to fix your app. You cannot watch live TV without the TV cutting out. It is a problem with the buffering in the app or your servers.
This doesn't happen with other apps on the same device, so it is not our Internet connection.
— Steven Hughes (@sw_hughes) June 2, 2023
There’s a long list of devices that don’t support ITV’s streaming app – and likely won’t ever support it – from popular Freeview boxes like the Humax FVP-5000t, to Freesat boxes like the Humax Hb1000s, and older Smart TVs from Samsung and other manufacturers.
Older iPhones and iPads will also lose ITVX support later this summer.
The nostalgia factor, though appealing to some, has not been the golden ticket for all. Older shows like Footballers Wives and Bad Girls, while still holding a certain charm, may not always be what cord-cutters are seeking in a modern streaming service.
Moreover, the audience for ITVX is notably skewed towards the younger demographic of 16-34-year-olds. While this age group is certainly vital for the platform, ITVX risks alienating a more diverse audience if it does not diversify its content offerings (though that is also sometimes an issue with the platform – a streaming service).
ITVX’s Road Ahead
ITVX has traversed a rollercoaster ride in its first six months. With a treasure trove of content, it has managed to strike a chord with the younger audiences, while also facing technical troubles that need ironing out.
Rufus Radcliffe, Managing Director, Streaming, Interactive & Data at ITV, compared the team to “proud new parents”:
“We’re still counting ITVX’s age in months, but it’s a testament to the hard work of the team, as well as ITVX’s proliferation across different platforms and devices and the scale and quality of our content, that we’ve achieved so much in a relatively short period of time.”
As ITV navigates this tumultuous journey, it remains to be seen how ITVX matures, evolves, and listens to its audience.
For now, it’s a streaming option with impressive figures, but needs to be approached with tempered expectations until ITVX manages to address its shortcomings.