ITV eyes U.S. syndie plan

Blighty web looks Stateside for new rev sources

LONDON — ITV, Blighty’s biggest commercial terrestrial web, is targeting the U.S. syndication market as part of ambitions to become less dependent on domestic ad coin.

The plan was revealed Thursday at a lengthy press briefing involving ITV toppers, headed by CEO Charles Allen, as the web attempted to sell a package of reforms to opinion formers.

As the perf of core channel ITV1 continues to disappoint — monthly revenues for the web are expected to fall below £100 million ($180 million) this summer for the first time since 1994 — ITV needs to drive new revenue sources.

Granada America (wholly owned by ITV) increased revenues by 138% in the U.S. during the past three years.

“We’ve had exceptional growth these last three years in the U.S.,” said Granada America’s new CEO, David Gyngell. “There is an opportunity to exceed that in the future. There are no regulatory issues or excuses there. Areas like syndication offer terrific growth prospects.

“Another area we might score is to re-import co-productions back into the U.K. and so avoid paying the high cost of U.S. acquisitions.”

Shows in syndication for next year include “Nanny 911,” “Connections” and “Catchphrase.”

The news comes the day after the web announced it would hand back $360 million in cash to stockholders and implement savings of $180 million by 2008, including a $54 million cut in sports budgets.

It also is streamlining production, jettisoning its tyke drama and entertainment operation.

In the future, it will concentrate on making factual entertainment, high-end contemporary drama, comedy, drama series, quizzers and gamers.

But wildlife, history, one-off docus and two-part dramas are set to go the way of children’s programming.

However, ITV was upbeat about the prospect of product placement, presently banned in the U.K., being passed in a review by media regulator the Office of Communications.

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