U.K.’s ITV rules out Hulu deal

YouTube may launch pay service in Britain

LONDON — ITV appears to have ruled out a deal with U.S. video-on-demand outfit Hulu — while YouTube is mulling bowing a pay service in the U.K.

Speaking at the MediaGuardian Changing Media Summit Thursday, ITV director of online and interactive, Ben McOwen Wilson, said the broadcaster would concentrate on driving traffic to its own VOD operation, the ITV Player, rather than form alliances with third-party operators.

He said: “We have no plans at present to do any deals with YouTube. We are following an ITV Player-led solution because we want to push our own platform as hard as we can.

“We enjoyed 180% growth in terms of usership of ITV Player last year.”

McOwen Wilson added: “Hulu is a major success in the U.S. but the U.K. TV market is a different place.”

It is an open secret that in Blighty, under the old regime of Michael Grade and John Cresswell, ITV had talks with Hulu regarding a British launch of the U.S. VOD platform.

In the U.K. other commercial terrestrial broadcasters Channel 4 and Five have already signed non-exclusive VOD deals with YouTube.

Meanwhile, YouTube’s European marketing topper, Anna Bateson, speaking at a Royal Television Society debate Thursday, said her company was considering introducing a pay service in the U.K.

Said Bateson: “We are exploring other models. We could perhaps be on pay in the U.K. later this year.”

The Google-owned web operator is already trialling a pay service in the U.S.

During the RTS confab, the head of U.K. VOD outfit Blinkbox, Michael Comish, warned that of the main British TV webs, ITV and Channel 4 have the most to lose from the emergence of Internet-based, on-demand video services.