ITV (again) preps online viewing micropayment system


British television network ITV, like many online-video purveyors, doesn't want to depend on advertising to fund its business. For that reason the service provider has been laying out plans for a micropayment system that blends free advertising-based content with paid non-ad-supported video.

The idea of charging a small fee for the ITV Player has been around for about five years and is intended to help ITV get about half its revenue from sources beyond television advertising. In 2011, ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said the pay mechanism would be "in place around the turn of the year" to test what content will attract viewer dollars. Now Fru Hazlitt, told that the system will be launched in a nationally available beta version by the end of August or early September.

It's called a micropayment because it's not full payment or subscription service. Quite frankly, it's not even a necessary fee for those who are willing to color within the lines ITV has already established for its online content. For instance, online viewers will still be able to catch up on shows from the previous five days for free and able to register to extend this window for 30 more days.

The micropayment comes in when viewers want more than that and are willing to pay a price that's yet to be determined via the test. Interestingly, the story said it is "understood" that purchased programs would be free of commercials.

ITV also apparently plans to premiere programs online for viewers to watch before they're broadcast … for a small fee. In each case, viewers will use the MGt PayWizard platform to pay to not have to watch commercials.

At the same time ITV is preparing a (again, just to remind you) its micropayment plan, its ostensible competitor BBC is toying with the idea of making archived programs available on a download basis … for a small fee via a program called Project Barcelona.

To make matters perhaps even more confusing, both ITV and BBC are shareholders in YouView which, recent reports say, is planning a long-awaited launch to at least some customers in time for the London Olympics. Details of that launch are still in the offing.

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