Sky to lose two sales contracts

Sky appears to have lost the contracts to sell both Nickelodeon and the Paramount Channel.

Sky appears to have lost the contracts to sell both Nickelodeon and

the Paramount Channel.



In a move that left agency pundits bemused, the sales contracts look

likely go to Viacom-owned MTV and VH-1, which will take over on 1

January 2001.



Viacom owns Paramount and 50 per cent of Nickelodeon (Sky owns the other

half). It recently asked MTV to pitch for the contract against the

existing Nickelodeon team, which sits within the Sky sales

organisation.



It is believed MTV presented a higher revenue guarantee bid to its

parent company.



It is not clear who will head sales when the business moves out of Sky’s

offices as MTV sales director Lesley Rowe-Jones is about to take

maternity leave.



The move also throws into question the future of the Nickelodeon sales

team, which is headed by sales director Steve Warwick, an expert in

children’s advertising.



TV buyers expressed surprise at the move, saying Nickelodeon’s sales

team had done an ’excellent job’ since the channel’s launch in 1993.



If the move cannot be blocked, it is possible Sky would consider buying

back its share in the channel.



Gary Ward, TV director at OMD, one of Nickelodeon’s biggest customers,

said: ’We have developed strong relationships with Nickelodeon sales

since its launch.



’MTV is not familiar with the children’s TV market or with housewives.

The timing couldn’t be worse for a new sales team. Nobody will have time

to see them as we are approaching the busiest season for children’s

advertising .’



Another agency source said: ’MTV can only increase the channel’s revenue

by forcing up prices. We won’t pay a premium for satellite TV without

good reason. Taking the business away from Steve Warwick is taking it

from one of the most skilled operators in the market.’



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