towieThe Only Way is Essex is one of the shows being hived off to launch a new ‘female-focussed’ TV channel called ITVBe, it was announced today.

ITV recently ordered three more series of the hit reality entertainment series The Only Way is Essex for 2014 from Liverpool’s Lime Pictures and now it will take its place in the new channel intended to focus on lifestyle and reality TV programming.

Free to air, it will launch towards the end of this year and will be available on Freeview, Sky and Virgin.

Director of television at ITV, Peter Fincham explained: “We identified an opportunity to develop what is currently part of the ITV2 schedule – reality and non-scripted shows, which are very popular with young women and housewives with kids – into a distinct channel proposition, aimed more squarely at that audience.”

ITV said that ad-funded ITVBe will be targeted at a younger, female audience will also feature acquired programming such as the US Real Housewives.

The move comes after ITV’s announcement at the end of last month that it intends to launch a pay-TV channel, called ITV Encore, initially exclusively on Sky that will be a showcase for the “best of British drama”.