Broadcaster ITV is to double the programme budget of ITV2 as part of a major investment in multichannel services unveiled today.
ITV shares rose 4% in London as investors also cheered comments that ITV was on track to achieve £100m (€150m) of savings from the merger of Granada and Carlton faster than originally planned.
Granada Media plc owns a 45% stake in TV3.
The television company will target additional sports rights, US series and movies on ITV2, as well as support the launch of a new ITV3 service later this year.
The strategy is part of £36m (€54m) a year of additional multichannel investment that ITV hopes will generate £150m (€225.5m) of revenues by 2007.
ITV added that its current trading performance had continued to improve, with net advertising revenues up 4.9% on the same period last year.
Chief executive Charles Allen said the performance showed the benefits of the Carlton and Granada merger, particularly following the creation of one system for ITV sales.
He added: “Already the benefits of one ITV are apparent in our performance and efficiency. We have a strong foundation for the ambitious plans we have to grow our business.”
The broadcaster, which also has the ITV News Channel, said it was on course to launch ITV3 in the final three months of this year. The service will target viewers aged over 35 with ITV dramas and movies.
The ITV2 channel, which is aimed at the 16 to 34 age group, is now seen as the third most watched non-terrestrial channel in multi-channel homes, with ratings up 8.3% in the year to date.
ITV added that Euro 2004 had proved “extremely successful” for ITV1, with a peak audience of 21 million viewers for England’s opening game against France.
It said that reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Would be making a return, while ITV1’s autumn schedule includes a new adaptation of Miss Marple and a return for Rosemary And Thyme, the highest-rating new drama of 2003.
Today’s developments were announced ahead of presentations to City analysts by Mr Allen and his management team.