CITV: ITV announces closure of kids’ channel in favour of streaming-only content

‘My Parents are Aliens’ is among the popular shows to have aired on CITV  (ITV)
‘My Parents are Aliens’ is among the popular shows to have aired on CITV (ITV)

ITV has announced the planned closure of its children’s channel CITV.

The channel was launched in 2006 after the success of the Children’s ITV programming block, which launched on ITV in 1983 to provide dedicated late-afternoon programming for children aged between five and 13.

On Friday (10 March), the broadcaster announced that the CITV channel is set to close in the early autumn, after the launch of a new “dedicated destination for kids” on its streaming service ITVX.

The new service, ITVX Kids, is due to launch in July 2023. It will be rolled out during the UK school summer holiday period, with a range of titles aimed at both school-age and preschool children.

ITVX launched in December last year to replace the ITV Hub brand as the online home of all ITV content, as the broadcaster attempts to compete with streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

Despite the closure of CITV, ITV has said it plans to maintain the LittleBe preschool segment on ITVBe, and will also offer some early morning children’s content on ITV2 from September.

The ITVX Kids homepage will be accessible within a child-safe ITVX Kids profile, and will offer more than 1,000 hours of programming, according to ITV. The broadcaster has also said accessibility for young viewers is “a big priority”.

ITV said the “ambition” is for all ITVX Kids content to be subtitled, with 20 per cent of the content offering audio description. The new offering will also include British Sign Language original programming, such as Mission Employable and Dare Master.

Discussing the new plans, managing editor of ITVX Craig Morris said: “We’re really excited to launch this dedicated destination for kids on ITVX, which will 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.

“The wealth of content will be available to stream for free, with the option for parents to choose ad-free viewing through a subscription to ITVX Premium.”

ITVX Kids will be home to both new launches and highly recognisable children’s programmes, including the animated series Mr Bean, TeleTubbies Let’s Go!, Sooty, and Bob the Builder.

New programmes are expected to be added to the service monthly from July, with content spanning comedy, game shows, live action, animation and sport, and “sourced from a broad spectrum of distributors, from small independents as well as regional UK suppliers”.

Additional reporting by Press Association