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ITV Player to add micropayment system in 2011

ITV is going ahead with plans to charge for access to content on its ITV Player streaming video service, the broadcaster's chief executive has confirmed today.

While the company originally announced plans to add a micropayment system to its ITV Player web-based video streaming service back in August 2010, it has kept quiet on the subject ever since. Any hopes by those who enjoy free access to the broadcaster's output that the idea had been dropped have, however, been scotched.

"Our pay mechanism will launch at the turn of the year," ITV chief Adam Crozier told The Guardian today. "We have picked our partners. We are working on the consumer proposition, what people are prepared to pay for and what will work and won't work."

ITV Player, which the commercial broadcaster launched following the success of the BBC's iPlayer service, allows users to watch entire programmes in their browser. According to the company's recent financial results, the service attracts 180 million users to its free streaming videos.

Details of precisely what content will attract a charge, and how much that charge will be, aren't yet available, although Crozier has indicated that ITV will likely try multiple payment models at first - such as pay-per-view, timed rental, and monthly subscriptions - to see what gains the most traction with users.

As broadband speeds increase, streaming video is proving popular, but previous offerings from broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV itself have always been free. While it's easy to see why Crozier is keen to monetise ITV Player's prodigious user base, it's not so easy to guess how many of those users will still be interested in the service when it carries a fee.