Last week, Ofcom awarded the local London TV licence to the Lebedev-family-owned London Evening Standard. The new service, London Live, will be available to more than four million homes in one of the world’s most affluent cities.
Campaign understands the five bidders for the London TV franchise had revenue expectations ranging between £10 million and £30 million. While the London Live bid is not believed to have been the most bullish, if it doesn’t push the higher end of that spectrum (equivalent to half of the Standard’s annual revenue) in its third year, it will go down as a disappointment. So are they being over-optimistic?
Alan Brydon, the managing partner, investment, at Havas Media and a former sales director at the Standard, sees an opportunity for the Lebedevs to develop a cross-platform offering. He explains: "[The company has] achieved an admirable quality in the newspaper’s output and developed some interesting digital extensions. If those things can be replicated for London Live, opportunities will be available for advertisers."
However, Ruth Cartwright, the broadcast director at Maxus, is less upbeat, saying the channel may struggle to reach its viewing and revenue targets. She explains: "It will need to take share away from existing deals [that media agencies have with broadcasters]. And £20 million seems a modest goal, but when you consider it will be competing with channels offering national coverage, then it becomes an impossibility."
But Jessica Evans, the associate press director at Carat, argues that it is unwise to think of media opportunities in terms of established categories and silos. She comments: "Not only will advertisers be offered a new platform, but there will be opportunities for better integration with other platforms and to strengthen existing partnerships."
Perhaps, Chris Wright, the joint head of investment at Initiative, says. He adds: "If audience levels are good, the service may offer a lower-cost alternative to ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, making TV more viable for some [London-oriented advertisers]. And national advertisers may use the service to upweight the region, where viewing levels are the lowest in the country."