BSkyB's decision to wind down its interactive shopping service,
Open, has sparked speculation that the Open division could be integrated
into Sky Interactive - BSkyB's interactive department.
The Open brand name is likely to be abandoned after failing to fulfil
the broadcaster's expectations. A number of redundancies from Open's 420
staff are now anticipated, mainly from its sales department. They are
expected to be announced with BSkyB's results this week. It is thought
that BSkyB's new-media chief, John Swingewood, will be replaced by John
Florsheim, the managing director of Open, as part of the realignment.
BSkyB's deputy sales director, Mark Chippendale, has also been tipped to
replace Nick Bryant, the director of sales at Open, but Bryant maintains
that he will continue in his role at Open.
Open operates from the interactive division of BSkyB's digital satellite
service. It has more than 30 content providers and has broadcast more
than 25 branded interactive ad campaigns. Trialled by BT during 1995 and
1996, Open launched in autumn 1998. The first consumer ad campaign for
the brand didn't appear until September 2000 though WCRS.
Over the past few months a number of brands, including Gameplay and
Somerfield, have cancelled their contracts with Open after they found
the deals unprofitable.
Open is regarded by many as an expensive medium for advertisers, and the
platform generated losses of more than pounds 116 million in the first
six months of BSkyB's financial year.
BSkyB announced in July last year that it was going to take full control
of Open by buying out its existing shareholders, Matsushita and
The broadcaster is also understood to be in negotiations to purchase
BT's 20 per cent stake in the platform. However, the purchase of a
majority stake in Open by BSkyB has yet to receive official approval
from the DTI.
A spokesperson at BSkyB said it is planning to bring more interactivity
into the broadcast stream rather than scrap the Open service
Analysts expect the broadcaster to announce digital subscriber figures
of more than five million this week, and BSkyB's satellite analogue
switch-off date is scheduled for the summer.
Industry observers say it is unlikely that Open will be disbanded and
welcome the suggestion that it is to be integrated into Sky Interactive.
Paul Longhurst, the managing director of Quantum New Media, said: 'This
is a good thing. You have to have a single-minded focus in terms of
marketing.' Quantum handles the Domino's Pizza interactive TV portal,
which was one of the first content providers to sign up for Open.
Currently, interactive digital campaigns on BSkyB click through from the
broadcast ad on to branded microsites within Open. With more
interactivity in the broadcast stream itself, viewers could interact
with ads without being taken away from programming and on to a separate,
It is hoped that the integration of Open into Sky Interactive will hand
more creative control to agencies. Open uses proprietary technology to
create the digital interfaces for brands on the platform - now that the
departments are to be realigned, more production control could be
returned to agencies.
LIVE CONTENT PROVIDERS ON OPEN
TV banking and insurance Abbey National; Cornhill; Halifax; Egg; HSBC;
Norwich Union; Woolwich
Travel Going Places; Thomas Cook; Tropical Places
Information and lifestyle UpMyStreet; OK! magazine; Yellow Pages; Sky
Shopping Argos; BOL.com; BT Shop; Carphone Warehouse; Comet;Domino's
Pizza; Dixons; Electronics Boutique; First Call; Gadget Shop; Kitbag
Sports; Manchester United merchandise; Next; Scene One; Thorntons; UKTV;
Woolworths; WH Smith
Gas and electricity Scottish Power; Betting; Blue Square
Open's own services Open e-mail; cinema listings; Open games (Pub Quiz,
Tetris, Trivial Pursuit, Bumble Tumble, Fathom, Corporal Cluck, Beehive
Bedlam, Marvin Mole, King Tutti)
Coming soon Asda; First Choice; Ladbrokes; Marks & Spencer.