Matt Salmon is leaving Channel 4 after eight years, having led the broadcaster’s commercial operation on an interim basis this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
He has decided to leave at the end of 2020, following a handover period, as Verica Djurdjevic, the former PHD UK chief executive, takes the reins as chief revenue officer of Channel 4.
Djurdjevic started the role, as a de facto replacement for the former chief commercial officer Jonathan Allan, this month. Allan was promoted to chief operating officer in January and Salmon, then head of agency and client sales, was appointed interim sales director.
“I liken it to a football caretaker manager, where he comes in, under sort of fairly unique circumstances, and does, I think, a pretty strong job, and then the business owner decides to bring in somebody else," Salmon told Campaign.
“I took the decision that I would take a break, have a chance to recharge, and leave on a high on my terms. By the end of April, I want to be looking to try and get back in some way; do something a little bit different, potentially.”
Salmon’s short but highly consequential tenure as Channel 4’s sales chief began just before lockdown restrictions took hold in the UK. He took the decision to introduce more flexible advanced-booking deadlines, which were last month made permanent, and oversaw the launch of branded entertainment unit 4Studio in May.
Last month, Allan said November would be up 12% year on year and deliver Channel 4’s highest ever monthly revenue. The TV market is buoyant right now as advertisers have been buying Christmas ad spots after months of lower demand amid the pandemic.
Reflecting on the year, Salmon added: “I think what Covid-19 has done is it has made us all think about how we work together, how we get the best out of each other and it's probably accelerated change and ways of working, which has been good for us, certainly as a commercial team.
“But I think, also for us, trying to listen to our customers and ensure that we're providing the solutions that they want has been more important than ever, and with the degree of agility and flexibility that we've never ever had in TV.”
Salmon is also particularly proud of the creative commercial work Channel 4 has brought out this year, such as the Clap for Carers project, in which 39 advertisers supported an ad break takeover to show solidarity with the NHS in March, or the “#TogetherAgainstHate” campaign in which the broadcaster partnered Nationwide, Co-op and Network Rail for a campaign to combat abuse against customer-facing staff.
Channel 4 also achieved a record number of 14 prizes at this year’s Media Week Awards, and was a finalist for the highly coveted Sales Team of the Year accolade.
Chief executive Alex Mahon said: “Matt has been a real asset to 4Sales over the last eight years and I’d particularly like to thank him for the fantastic job he has done leading that team through the turbulence of 2020 and delivering such strong revenues this year. He will be missed and we all wish him the very best for the future.”
Salmon was in the running for chief revenue officer as Channel 4’s internal candidate and made it through to the final round of the hiring process this year. A former magazine publishing director, he joined Channel 4 from Hearst in 2012 as head of agency sales and his role was expanded after a restructure in 2018.
Ewan Douglas, head of nations and regions ad sales, has been acting as interim head of agency and client sales this year.
Djurdjevic added: “Matt is clearly a well-loved and respected member of the team and I’m very grateful to him for the support he’s given to me since I was appointed, and the work he’s done to maintain 4Sales’ industry leading position. I look forward to continuing to work with him over the next couple of months and wish him well for whatever he does next.”