ITVX, the new streaming service that’s replacing ITV Hub, is launching a “world-first” British Sign Language channel, as part of ITVX’s roster of themed live channels.
The new channel, which curates content with British Sign Language from across the ITV/ITVX portfolio, will include a range of shows like Emmerdale, Cilla, Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow and more.
Meanwhile, however – some viewers of ITVX won’t be able to get subtitles on ITV’s live-streamed channels, until a fix is pushed out “in the first half of 2023”.
The subtitles issue will affect a range of popular devices, including Freeview, YouView, Freesat and Chromecast (see more below on what this means for you).
What Is ITVX?
ITV’s new streaming app, ITVX, is a free-to-watch (with adverts) service that’s replacing the ageing ITV Hub app.
Once the initial roll-out is done, ITVX will be available on most of the streaming devices sold in the UK – though some older devices won’t be supported.
ITV aims to transform ITVX into more than just a “catch-up” service, and instead make it a streaming destination: it launched with more than 10,000 hours of on-demand content, including 35 flagship shows (which will be coming from December 8), 200+ series and 250+ films.
In addition to the on-demand content, you can stream all of ITV’s live channels via the app, as well as 20 “themed” ad-supported live channels that are dedicated to a single series or theme (with the British Sign Language channel being one of those themed channels).
While ITV is focusing heavily on the ad-supported free tier, ITVX also has a paid Premium tier, which removes all the adverts when you’re watching on-demand content (though they will continue to show up when you watch live content).
Premium tier subscribers will also get access to the entire content library of BritBox (directly on ITVX, not on the BritBox app), which includes more than 4,000 hours of classic British shows and films.
The Premium tier currently costs £5.99/month or £59.99/year.
ITVX’s British Sign Language Channel
The new British Sign Language channel is already available on ITVX, on devices that support it – with a wider release on December 8.
The channel will be regularly updated and will evolve to include both recent and archive programming with BSL, from a wide variety of genres.
At launch, it will include shows like the Emmerdale and Coronation Street omnibus episodes, Cilla, Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow, Vera, Lewis, and The Saint.
Being part of ITVX’s “themed” live channels, ‘ITV Signed’ appear in the ‘live’ section of the service, below ITV’s six existing linear channels.
ITV’s Director of Accessibility, David Padmore, said: “We’re committed to placing great accessibility at the heart of ITVX and our offering at launch represents significant progress on ITV Hub.
“Our ITV Signed Channel gives us a fantastic platform for showcasing our rich archive of signed programmes.”
According to ITV, accessibility is a core principle ITVX, and teams across ITV have worked to ensure the brand, design and user interfaces are accessible and that they support assistive technology such as screen readers.
ITV Subtitles On ITVX Won’t Work On Some Devices
Despite the emphasis on accessibility, subtitles on ITVX’s live channels (both the linear ITV channels and the new ‘themed’ channels) won’t be available to ITVX viewers on some platforms.
This means that ITVX users on Freeview Play, YouView, Freesat and Chromecast devices won’t be able to enable subtitles on ITVX’s live channels.
Since users with these specific devices (except for Chromecast) usually have access to live Freeview via an aerial, or live Freesat via a satellite dish – they will still be able to watch those live versions of ITV’s channels (ITV1, ITV2 etc.) with subtitles – but not if they stream them via ITVX.
The 20 themed channels, however, will only be available on ITVX – therefore viewers on the affected devices won’t have any way to watch them with subtitles until a fix is released.
According to ITV, the issue is being worked on, and it should be resolved “in the first half of 2023.”
The on-demand content on ITVX will include subtitles, on all devices (for over 90% of on-demand programmes, at this stage), including the aforementioned ones.
Audio description is available for around 20% of programmes on the platform at launch, including all new ITV dramas, with supported platforms prioritised in consultation with the RNIB.
At launch, audio description only works on the mobile ITVX apps, Amazon Fire TV devices, Apple TV, Samsung TVs, Chromecast (via iOS only) and Sky Glass.
ITV teams are still working on browsers and the remaining connected TV platforms, and they hope to make AD available on these in the first half of 2023.