Sky's EPG channel slots still in demand

Just weeks after Sky announced it would close its platform to new channels, it has emerged that broadcasters are already in talks to either sell or acquire channel slots on the satellite outfit's electronic programme guide.

Last month, Sky stopped accepting applications for new channels beyond those already slated for launch.

The company also unveiled plans for a new process for trading EPG slots.

Consequently, the EPG "real estate" is now a scarce resource, highly prized by media groups looking for a foothold with the biggest pay-TV operator outside of the United States.

Media Week has learned that bids for channel slots are as high as £500,000 for entertainment channels with a high position on the EPG.

One deal has already been completed for a channel in the entertainment genre for £200,000, according to Sophie Wilson, the business development director of broadcast solutions company WRN. She said: "When you consider this is just for the EPG slot, and channels still have to pay Sky £76,000 for their annual platform contribution and a further £200-£300k for their satellite capacity - it's a hefty add-on."

Sky released a document last week, Changes to Sky's EPG and Listings Methodology, which details its EPG trading regime.

Among the new rules, parties no longer need to give Sky 28 days notice of any change of ownership of EPG slots.

However, Sky has increased the minimum amount of new programming each channel must broadcast - a move viewed by some as an attempt by Sky to raise the quality of content on the platform.

Mark Cullen, chief executive of channel consultancy ETV, noted: "This new requirement will squeeze out the smaller underfunded channels.

"Sky has raised the bar a little of what it is to be a channel on the platform as space is now limited, and it wants to get rid of the channels it considers dross that don't help the platform."

Sky said the new EPG regime was aimed in part at ensuring the quality of content on its TV platform.

A spokesman said: "We've been transparent about the constraints on memory capacity in some older set-top boxes.

"This issue has come about because of sustained growth in the number of services, which itself is a testament to the success of the platform. We believe a commitment to a level of quality is in the best interests of broadcasters and viewers."


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