ITV Bosses Talk Up Plimsoll & Ben Stephenson Deals: They Tick The Box On Genre & Geography

ITV bosses have talked up the Plimsoll Productions and Ben Stephenson deals as “ticking the box on genre and geography” and detailed how soon-to-launch streamer ITVX will attract bigger audiences.

Over the past weeks, ITV Studios has closed huge deals to acquire a majority stake in Hostile Planet and Tiny World producer Plimsoll for £103M ($126M) and set up a transatlantic talent label within the production arm for former Bad Robot exec and BBC Drama Controller Stephenson.

Speaking to the press after the unveiling of ITV’s half-year results, CEO Carolyn McCall said the pair of landmark deals “tick the box on genre and geography,” allowing the production/distribution arm to move into a new space, natural history, and helping with the push to make more high-end scripted hours and work more regularly with U.S. streaming platforms.

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She praised Plimsoll for being a “rare asset in the world of production, doing something specific and doing it brilliantly.”

The pair of deals demonstrate “two very different strands of our strategy,” added McCall, one being an acquisition of a company “with a very strong infrastructure of its own” and the other being an individual setting up a label.

On streaming, McCall brushed off concerns that the teething problems being experienced by Netflix and others will impact ITV Studios’ ability to produce content for them, pointing to “a number of great shows in the pipeline.”

ITV Studios is attempting to double its proportion of total revenues from SVoDs over the next four years, and today’s half-year report showed progress, with turnover rising 3pp to 19%. Its number of scripted hours nearly doubled on the same period last year. The results showed a minor EBITA drop of 3% but revenues increased 9% to £1.9B ($2.3B).

McCall and Content Boss Kevin Lygo talked up soon-to-launch streamer ITVX, which is gearing up for Q4 rollout and will see shows premier exclusively months before being given a linear run.

That strategy will be “exciting for producers as their shows will be watched by more people,” according to Lygo.

“Their shows will have more presence on air over a year,” he added. “We can premier something on ITVX and then six months later put it on the channel where you will get another group of viewers watching it and another bump on ITVX. We think it’s a full, virtuous circle.”

Targeting 15,000 hours of content for ITVX, the network struck a deal with CBS Reality and Anime LTD for 400 hours worth of true crime and animated content earlier this week.

Lygo was also pressed on whether ITV will be looking into complaints made to the regulator about this year’s Love Island but he only said the series will be “reviewed” once it comes to an end Monday and pointed to regular audience figures of 5M per night. Complaints so far have been down on last year.

“This year is the best we’ve had in many years,” Lygo opined. “We must always look for ways to improve on what we’ve done but I’m happy with the work so far.”

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