LONDON: The UK's largest commercial broadcaster ITV has hired US multinational Boston Consulting Group, with a remit to inject some adrenalin into the worldwide expansion of its programme content division, currently achieving revenues of £600,000 (€1.17m; £805.5k). In a separate move, ITV announced a major expansion of its digital programming, doubling the broadcasting hours of its ITV4 channel to become a 24/7 service.
ITV management has ordered the division to double its revenues to £1.2 billion over the next five years; while Boston is seen by some as a cost-slashing proxy for executives who are unwilling to wield the axe themselves.
But ITV claims the Boston review is "standard business practice" and that expansion, not cost-cutting, is the name of the game. The global content division, it insists, is "in growth mode".
Says ITV: "The project will look at activity across [our] global content division and develop strategies to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness [of] the team's UK and international operations. BCG will build on the changes already underway."
The division, managed by former Five ceo Dawn Airey, not only markets existing content and merchandising rights overseas, but also runs TV production operations in the UK, Germany, Australia and the US, via Granada America.
ITV4, whose content has previously been repeats of re-runs of regurgitated programmes, will receive additional investment to originate new programming.
The cash is intended to counter audience fragmentation at the broadcaster's flagship ITV1 channel. It also hurls down a gauntlet to Dave, a channel launched jointly by the BBC and Virgin Media in October to target the male 18-35 demographic.
Comments Numis Securities' analyst Paul Richards: "I am delighted to see extra investment in ITV's multichannels as it is the one area that has been a real success for the company in recent years.
"It is a good use of resources. We are looking for £250m of multichannel ad revenue this year and it will continue to be important in counteracting the decline in ITV1."
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk and Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff