Channel 5's new owners, Viacom, who bought the channel for £450 million back in May and will be taking it over later this month, has announced that they will not be shutting down the channel's in-house advertising sales team, likely disappointing BSkyB and Channel 4, who had both been hoping to pick up a deal to sell advertising on Channel 5's behalf. Both channels assumed that Viacom, the American global mass media company, would outsource its advertising, a business that's worth £330 million a year. They were even preparing to go head to head in order to pitch for it, with BSkyB particularly keen, as they already handle advertising for the Viacom channels MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Viacom will not be shutting down the Channel 5's in-house advertising sales team, likely disappointing BSkyB and Channel 4
David Lynn, the managing director of Viacom UK, said the business would remain in-house because the team is continuing to “Perform strongly with an innovative approach to commercial partnerships, which has delivered great results.” He says Viacom “Look forward to working with them to build on this success.” To say Viacom were unexpected winners in the Channel 5 auction would be something of an understatement, but then American companies buying up British broadcasting assets is hardly a new phenomenon. Indeed, David Abraham, Channel 4's CEO, recently gave a speech decrying the idea of Americans acquiring British broadcasting companies as a “Threat to creativity.” In hindsight, this could have counted against him if they had ended up pitching for the ad business.
Former Channel 5 owner, Richard Desmond
Last month at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Ben Frow, the director of programmes at Channel 5, said he believed the deal with Viacom would allow them to pool resources with other Viacom channels like MTV and Comedy Central. He said that for him, “The most important thing about working with Viacom is how open and up for collaboration everyone is.” He added that "Everybody is up for growing and sharing content, making shows that can naturally play on other channels, but we are all different and our channels work in their own way and we don't want to compromise them."
Channel 5 recently reported an audience share a full 1% higher audience share than Channel 4, its closest rival
The ad sales team at Channel 5 had been growing steadily, alongside the channel itself, which recently reported an audience share a full 1% higher audience share than Channel 4, its closest rival. But in the months running up to publisher Richard Desmond's sale of the company he forced a spike in revenues, which upset some buyers, including Omnicom, who withdrew its entire £30 million annual spending. This meant the channel lost advertising from some huge Omnicom brands such as McDonald’s, Boots, Hasbro, Renault UK, Sony Music and Warner Bros. It was hoped that with Viacom on board, they would turn to a third-party ad sales team to help buyer relationships, but it appears that hasn't been the case.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK who has never watched more than 10 minutes of Channel 5.