Businessman Andrew Cosslett has been appointed as the new chair of ITV, succeeding Sir Peter Bazalgette, who will step down after six years in the role and nine years on the board, it has been announced.
Cosslett, who is chair of home improvement company Kingfisher PLC and former chair of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), will join the board as an independent non-executive director and chair designate from June 1, and will become non-executive chair from September 29 after Sir Peter’s departure.
On March 3 ITV announced a new streaming service through which it will premiere much of its new content six to nine months before it airs on its traditional TV channels.
The ITVX platform will replace the ITV Hub brand as the broadcaster increases its efforts to compete with streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon in the digital age.
The service will launch with two options in a bid to satisfy a broad demographic – viewers can choose to watch ad-funded programmes for free or trade up and buy ad-free content such as BritBox.
Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV’s chief executive, said: “ITV is very grateful to Baz for the role he has played as our chair as we have transformed the company into the much stronger, more flexible and digitally-scaled business it is today. He will be greatly missed by the entire business.
“The next few years will be exciting for ITV as we launch ITVX and continue to deliver our digital acceleration. I’m really pleased that Andrew, with his huge wealth of experience, will be with us as chair as we continue to grow and deliver on our ambition.”
Mr Cosslett added: “I am delighted to be joining ITV. This is an exciting time for the media sector with viewing habits and the needs of advertisers evolving rapidly.
“During the years of Peter’s chairmanship ITV has undergone a remarkable transformation and is very well-placed to take advantage of these sector trends.
“The company has an enviable reputation for connecting with millions of people every day, reflecting and shaping culture. I am looking forward to supporting Carolyn and the team on the next leg of their exciting journey.”
ITVX will launch with big budget dramas including A Spy Among Friends starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce, Nolly starring Helena Bonham Carter, and Sir Lenny Henry’s The Little Birds.
Initial comedy offerings will include a feature film of ITV2 show Plebs, a series using deep fake techniques to create celebrity set-ups, and a documentary about the controversy around Bill Cosby.
ITVX also intends to stream 500 films for free in its first year.
Edward Bonham Carter, ITV’s senior independent non-executive director, said: “We are delighted that Andrew will be joining us as chair of ITV.
“Having conducted a thorough and detailed process, the board is confident that we have found an excellent new chair, out of a very strong field of candidates.”