In-house prod'n will fuel new content push at ITV

Grade wants revenue doubled by '12

ITV is looking to ramp up its in-house program development while trimming its use of "outside suppliers." The push — backed by a $400 million war chest — is a major part of executive chairman Michael Grade's stated aim of doubling ITV's content business to £1.2 billion ($2.4 billion) a year by 2012 (HR 9/13).

Grade unveiled his blueprint for growth, part of a wide-ranging strategic review of the broadcaster, at a news conference Wednesday.

He said that Britain's leading commercial broadcaster is entering "a period of growth" and has assembled £200 million ($406 million) to fund U.K. and international production company acquisitions in the mold of its recent purchase of Jaffe Braunstein.

Grade's "content-led growth plan" is intended to deliver 3%-5% annual growth during the next three years and increase its online revenue to £150 million ($305 million) by decade's end.

The broadcaster's in-house creative division, ITV Prods. — to be headed by former Sky programming head Dawn Airey — will be charged with delivering the bulk of the growth.

The in-house division, which accounts for about 54% of ITV1's output, has been told in no uncertain terms to "raise its game" and contribute as much as 75% of the broadcaster's fare. The division also is being called on to deliver more hit formats like "Hell's Kitchen," which has been successfully adapted worldwide.

The unit also is expected to supply the ITV1 network with an expanded range of high-quality, 60-minute dramas aimed at the 9 p.m. weeknight slot.

"We have leaked too much value to outside suppliers," Grade said, suggesting that the network has become too reliant on commissions from the independent sector.

"ITV Prods. has got to be more sensitive to the needs of the network," he added.