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ITV CEO Carolyn McCall on Tuesday declined to comment on a report that the U.K. TV giant was in the running for TV production powerhouse Endemol Shine, but told a Royal Television Society conference in London that any acquisition would have to add financial benefits.
Asked about the Endemol Shine report, she said, “That’s speculation. We never, ever comment on speculation.” McCall added that “the most important thing for us is that we can organically grow (ITV) Studios.”
In the case of acquisitions, the firm doesn’t look to grow for growth’s sake, but looks for profitable growth. “We have to be incredibly disciplined about any acquisition that we make,” she said. The company has about doubled the size of its ITV Studios production arm in recent years via a strong of acquisitions.
The ITV CEO declined to comment on a question about whether the company would be better off as part of a bigger entity. Asked who could buy Endemol Shine if not ITV, she simply said: “I don’t know.”
McCall, who has been leading the company since the start of the year, unveiled a strategy refresh for ITV this summer under the theme “More Than TV.” It focuses on strengthening the integrated producer broadcaster business model of operating networks and the ITV Studios TV production unit, growing U.K. and global production and creating a scaled direct-to-consumer business.
McCall on an earnings conference call this summer had said that ITV sees an opportunity to build a new SVOD service in Britain, potentially with partners, as part of its focus on building its direct-to-consumer business. On Tuesday, she reiterated that goal, telling the conference that “there is a demand for British content that people have missed” and that ITV is still “talking to [potential] partners” for the service, but she didn’t name any names.
McCall signaled, though, that she doesn’t like the notion that the service would be a U.K. version of Netflix, saying, “Netflix is Netflix, and we are we.” And she emphasized about the planned SVOD service: “It will not be something that is big and flashy and really expensive at all.”
While not sharing any original content budget for the streaming service, McCall said that “we would have a very phased approach to it,” and adding later, “Every streaming service needs original content. But that comes maybe further down the line.”
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