UK broadcaster ITV is to shut down its kids-focused linear network CITV later this year and create a new ‘dedicated destination’ for children’s programming on nascent streamer ITVX.
The CITV broadcast channel will close in early Autumn, once the new streaming destination for kids has been rolled out, althought the broadcaster said it would “maintain” the LittleBe pre-school segment on ITVBe.
Children’s content will also continue to be available in the early mornings on ITV2 from September. TBI understands some roles will be impacted as a result of the move, but details are unclear.
The broadcaster said the move to shutter CITV came as “a consequence” of a newly unveiled kids strategy for ITVX, which will see the creation of an ITVX Kids section on its recently launched streamer.
School age and pre-school age shows will be available from July on the service, with the kids ITVX homepage offering child-safe access and more than 100 titles totalling over 1,000 hours. ITV said it would almost double the current kids offering.
New programmes will drop monthly, with genres crossing comedy, gameshow, live action, animation and sport genres.
Budgets have not been revealed but TBI understands that kids is seen as a major growth area by ITV, as it looks to secure greater audience share via streamer ITVX.
Existing shows such as Lloyd of the Flies, Lily’s Driftwood Bay, Claude, Mumfie and Mystery Lane will be available, along with The Rubbish World of Dave Spud. A new season of the latter has been ordered for 2024, while the animated series of Mr Bean, Bob The Builder and TeleTubbies Let’s Go will also be on offer.
ITV commissions using the now defunct BFI Young Audiences Content Fund will also appear on ITVX Kids, including sustainable arts and craft series Makeaway Takeaway, science show HOW and Happy The Hoglet.
Craig Morris, managing editor of ITVX, said ITVX Kids would “be home to a wealth of content including new series, recognisable brands and existing favourites for a range of ages, all in one child-safe area, with editorial curation to guide viewing.”
It will be available free with ads or ad-free via paid service, ITVX Premium.
ITV’s decision to close CITV follows the BBC’s shuttering of CBBC last year. ITV pointed to BARB viewing data that shows while the average amount of broadcast TV minutes of kids TV channels watched by 4-15 year olds per week has declined by -62% since 2019, unmatched viewing – consumption that BARB cannot measure including SVOD and through gaming devices, amongst others – has risen by +30% over the same period.