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ITV2 is a 24 hour, free-to-air entertainment television channel in the United Kingdommarker owned by ITV Digital Channels Ltd, a division of ITV plc. It was launched on 7 December 1998, and is available on digital television via satellite, cable, IPTV and terrestrial (Freeview) platforms. It is also available via analogue cable television.

The term can also refer to the continuum of proposals to create a second commercial television network, from the 1950s until the idea was realised with the start of Channel 4 and S4C in 1982 (see Background).

The channel is known for its American programming such as Gossip Girl and Entourage, for reality television spin-off shows such as Xtra Factor and I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here! Now, and for original programming, with shows such as Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Celebrity Juice.

ITV2 won channel of the year at the Broadcast Digital Channel Awards 2007 on 9 June 2007, and on 25 August of the same year, ITV2 was named non-terrestrial channel of the year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

The premiere episode of Bionic Woman, starring British actress Michelle Ryan peaked with over 3 million viewers[50408], ITV2's largest audience in the history of the channel and beating the record previously held by Torchwood on BBC Three for a non-sports digital channel.


The concept of there being more than one independent television service dates back to the very origins of independent television itself, where ways of allowing the composite companies of ITV to compete directly with one another side-by-side were considered. When the first broadcasts went on air in 1955 there was not enough frequency space given for use by television to allow this to happen, so each competing company was allotted a part of the country, and in the large areas a period of the week (weekdays or weekend), in which to 'compete'. This arrangement was not seen as ideal however, and the ITA continually pushed the government for the extra capacity to license a second set of franchises.

When transmissions began on UHF in the early 1960s, the GPO were afforded the task of allocating each transmitter region with a set of frequencies that would provide maximum coverage, and minimal interference; this was done in such a way that each area had four channels available for four services, one each for the existing BBC and Independent Television services (as already carried on VHF), one for the new BBC2 service, launched in 1964, and a fourth for future allocation. The ITA and ITV companies pushed for this space to be given to them, and during the 1968 round of new ITV franchises being issued, each licence included a clause that would allow the licence to be revoked and reconsidered if 'ITV2' became a reality before its ten-year expiry period, so as to 're-draw' the network with this consideration in mind. The term 'ITV2' became popular during this time, as the term 'ITV' itself grew in popularity for the commercial network which hitherto had no formal or agreed overall name. So anticipated was the creation of such a network by some, that many television sets manufactured during the '60s and '70s had buttons labelled 'ITV' and 'ITV2'.

The issue was a sensitive political point: The Labour Party of the 1950s and 1960s had been traditionally against commercial television, and many on the left of the party wanted to see ITV abolished altogether. Ideas to create a 'BBC3' using the spare capacity had been considered during the 1960s, but never acted upon - presumably due to the cost involved. The following Conservative government, despite traditionally favouring the concept of ITV and having founded it, were also slow to act in implementing the new network when they came to power in 1970. After many years of indecisiveness on the part of the various governments, moves began to be made towards the end of the 1970s on the form such a fourth service would take. By then, both major political parties roughly agreed that this new service ought to have some public service element to it, and provide content to minority groups not necessarily catered for by the BBC or ITV proper. The resultant service, Channel 4, and a variant for Wales, S4C, began in 1982. It could be said that this service was the long-awaited 'ITV2' in all but name, as it was operated and regulated by the IBA, was (then) funded by the rest of ITV, and some of its content was produced from the ITV companies; only the name was distinct.


Original logo; used from 1998-2001
Previous logo; used from 2006-2008
This name was not dead, however, and the concept of 'ITV2' resurfaced in the late 1990s for very different reasons. The launch of digital terrestrial television services in the UK saw each existing analogue terrestrial broadcaster given a slice of bandwidth with which to carry their existing service after analogue switch-off with space left over for new channels. Whilst strictly speaking this space belonged to each regional contractor for use within their own region, ITV had undergone a series of buy-outs earlier on in the decade, the three players operating the majority of the network, Granada, Carlton and United News & Media jointly launched ITV2 in 1998 to be broadcast to most of the country as a uniform service. Whilst free-to-air, it was marketed along-side their own subscription based ONdigital platform. Other ITV licensees, SMG, UTV and GMTV launched their own services in the space (see below).

It is important to consider the distinction between ITV2 as considered between 1955 and 1982 and the ITV2 that was launched in 1998. Like ITV itself, the former would have had a regional structure comprising of many companies competing head-to-head with their counterparts in each region, whilst the latter is operated by one organisation, as a supplement service to the main network.

In June 2004, ITV plc announced that they were going to double the channel's programme budget, and would add more US series and movies. On 1 November 2004 , ITV2 moved from 175 to 118 on Sky. The same day it moved slots, ITV3 replaced Plus.

ITV plc launched a one hour timeshift channel of ITV2 on Monday, 30 October 2006. The company is looking to its digital channels to shore up revenues as the ITV Network suffers a decline in viewers. ITV3+1 launched on the same day.

ITV2 and its one-hour timeshift channel began broadcasting 24 hours a day on 17 March 2008.

As part of the changes, ITV2+1 swapped slots on Sky's electronic programme guide with Men & Motors, resulting in the timeshift channel making a significant jump from channel 184 to 131.

GMTV2 programming moved from ITV2 to ITV4. The strand continues to be simulcast on the CITV Channel.

On 20 August 2008, ITV2 was given a little rebrand, the logo was given a 3D look, with three new ident.

Other local variants


S2 was a television station broadcast throughout the Scottish and Grampian ITV regions by SMG plc, the holder of the Scottish and Grampian region ITV franchises. S2, which aired on the Digital Terrestrial platform, was launched 30 April 1999 and closed just over two years later — as part of a deal with ITV Digital — on 27 July 2001.

By the end of its life, it had lost nearly all of its Scottishmarker programmes and mainly simulcast ITV2, but covered the ITV2 graphic with an opaque S2 graphic. This caused controversy and forced the broadcaster further into removing the channel.

Although S2 initially had great ambitions for the station, it closed in 2001 as part of a deal with ITV Digital. The channel capacity was replaced by ITV2 and the ITV Sports Channel. When the sports channel closed, it was replaced by the now also-defunct ITV News Channel. It had its hours slashed to half in November 2005 to make room for ITV4 on Freeview. It ceased transmission on December 2005, but in March 2006 CITV occupied the daytime slot until February 2008. ITV4 went 24hours and this made CITV move into ABC1's old space.

The Grampian and Scottish franchises operate together as STV as of present (2006).


UTV2 Logo.
Similar in design to the original ITV2 logo.
UTV2 was a television station broadcast by UTV Media plc on Digital Terrestrial Television in Northern Irelandmarker. It was launched in 1999 as TV You. The programming consisted primarily of simulcasts with the ITV2 station shown in Englandmarker, Walesmarker and the Scottish Borders, although they did also use archive broadcasts from UTV.

Unusually, for a commercial station, neither UTV2 nor its predecessor carried any advertising. This was presumably due to their failure to attract advertisers to a station which was only receivable to a few thousand viewers.

UTV2 closed on 22 January 2002 following a deal with ITV Digital and was replaced by ITV2.


Billie Piper's drama Secret Diary of a Call Girl attracted 1.8 million viewers, a record for the channel. This was later succeeded by the premiere of Bionic Woman, a peak audiance of 3 million viewers tuned in to watch the pilot episode which was the largest on any non-terrestrial channel. The viewer ratings are now just under 1 million. The heavily promoted Gossip Girl also had strong ratings to begin with, 520,000, but its time slot failed to attract no more than 293,000 viewers towards the end of the first episode. Another weak debut was Season 1 of Entourage with 168,000. However, one US programme has held onto its ratings throughout season 3, Supernatural still attracts over 600,000 viewers per episode making it one of the most watched programmes on ITV2. American Idol also proves successful on ITV2 reaching an average of 700,000 viewers per episode.

Highest rated shows on ITV2 to date
Show Date Viewer Ratings
Bionic Woman 11 March 2008 2.55 Million Viewers
Britain's Got More Talent 30 May 2009 2.53 Million Viewers
The Xtra Factor 8 November 2009 2.52 Million Viewers
Britain's Got More Talent 31 May 2008 2.17 Million Viewers
The Xtra Factor 6 December 2008 2.11 Million Viewers
Secret Diary of a Call Girl 28 September 2007 1.99 Million Viewers
The Xtra Factor 13 December 2008 1.96 Million Viewers
Peter Andre: Going It Alone 17 August 2009 1.90 Million Viewers
Footballer's Wives: Extra Time 26 May 2005 1.9 Million Viewers

XXL Thursday

XXL Thursday is a programing block that aires on ITV2 on a Thursday night featuring brand new programming from the UK and the USA. XXL Thursdays have proved successful, having reached over 1 million viewers with programmes such as Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter.

Current programmes shown on ITV2

Former programming


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