CAMPAIGN-I: Sky to close interactive shopping service Open

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

HSBC.



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

altogether.



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,

interactive platform.



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

Rewards



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.



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