August 08, 2008

Virgin Media not selling TV channels

The Sunday Times report last weekend suggesting that Virgin Media was looking to sell its TV channels appears to have been wide of the mark. Here's the full story as reported in Media Week:

Fiona Ramsay Media Week 05-Aug-08, 09:00

LONDON - Virgin Media Television has called in brand consultancy Sparkler to lead a review of its pay-TV port­folio, with the evolution of its online presence key to the broadcaster's plans.

Jonny Webb, managing director of Virgin Media Television, said the company was "picking the business apart and looking at where it should be in 2012".

He said the development of pay- TV channel Living "in other forms off screen" was the main priority this year. "In a world of digital media, it is all about brands. We are a brand-led business so we have got a head start.

"Living is the strongest in multi­channel to be a standout brand. We can bring it to life off screen, so we are looking at in what other forms it could exist off screen."

Virgin Media TV is expected to ramp up its online presence by creating communities around its channels. Earlier this year it merged its female-focused Siren portal with as part of a plan to create one of the country's top five women's websites.

Webb said: "We are getting seven million page impressions a month, so there are opportunities off screen."

He said that Sparkler, which has worked with UKTV, Virgin Media's joint-venture with BBC Worldwide, as well as the likes of BBC News and Ofcom in the past, had been recruited to focus on the "opportunities for growth and where we can take the brands next", but not on rebranding the channels themselves.

He denied that Virgin Media TV was concerned about the performance of its pay-TV channels.
"Commercial impacts for the portfolio are up 10% year on year, for the year to date," he said.
"Living is in good shape, with new shows such as Bands Go Pop. The number one priority for Living is talkability."

Living had a 0.6% share of total viewing for June. Top performing TV programmes in recent weeks have been Ghost Whisperer, Criminal Minds and Britain's Next Top Model.

Virgin Media TV is also concentrating on improving sister channel Trouble's offering.
Vizeum broadcast director Simon Bevan said: "Trouble is good for reaching the teen audience. Living is definitely its most prominent channel and in the best health."

No fear of them going to Sky then - maybe just wishful thinking on News Corps' part?


Sirius said...

The title of this thread should surely read "Virgin Media MAY not be selling their channels"?
Rumours persist from several sources (not just last week's Sunday Times) that Virgin is looking to off load their TV arm as advertising revenues have gone into free fall. Reports like this one, suggesting that Virgin is seeking to improve their channels just indicates to me that they are giving them a cosmetic "lick of paint" in order to make them more attractive to potential purchasers

Sirius said...

This doesn't mean Sky will acquire them of course (or even that they might really be interested)