Tim Pearson has stepped down as managing director of Sky Media in a shock move – six months after he started.
Pearson is said to have resigned, according to multiple external sources who have spoken to Campaign.
It is understood he will depart Sky Media, the ad sales house for the Comcast-owned cable and broadband giant, this week.
A Sky spokesperson declined to offer comment at this stage.
Pearson did not respond to inquiries by Campaign.
Pearson’s departure is a shock as he spent more than 20 years at Manning Gottlieb OMD, rising to be chief executive in 2015, before becoming chief executive of parent company OMD Group UK, part of Omnicom, in 2019.
A former colleague described Pearson as “principled” and said: “Anything he does is very considered.”
Sky, which is led by Stephen van Rooyen, chief executive of UK and Europe, announced Pearson was joining in January 2021.
Pearson replaced John Litster, the long-serving managing director of Sky Media, and joined in March.
Pearson was one of two senior agency figures to join Sky Media at the same time as Ruth Cartwright, managing partner, delivery at Dentsu International, took on the role of director of investment.
Pearson reported to Patrick Béhar, the former McKinsey leader who joined as chief business officer UK and Europe in 2019. Pearson was also responsible for Sky’s European agency relationships.
At the time of his appointment, Pearson said: “To take on the role of MD at Sky Media is a huge honour. With the organisation in a position of real strength, the potential to bring new, exciting and effective ways of connecting and converting audiences is immense.”
Sky Media is one of the three big TV ad sales houses in the UK, behind ITV and roughly equal with Channel 4, with over £1 billion media billings in the UK.
In addition to selling advertising on Sky-owned TV channels, Sky Media represents third-party media owners including Channel 5, Viacom, Discovery Networks and, since beating Channel 4 to the contract last year, BT Sport.
Pearson has featured regularly in Campaign's top 10 media suits and was shortlisted for Media Week's Media Leader of the Year and Campaign's Media Agency Head of the Year in 2020.
He wrote an essay for Campaign's Year Ahead feature in December, predicting 2021 will be "brighter and better" than 2020.
Pearson started his career in TV sales at ITV sales house Carlton, before joining Manning Gottlieb Media as a TV buyer and then moving into planning.
In an interview with Campaign in 2016 soon after becoming CEO of Manning Gottlieb OMD, Pearson described himself as “a people-first leader”.
The TV ad market has been through a tumultuous period, with revenues plunging during the first lockdown, before bouncing back this year.
Sky Media has come under additional scrutiny this year as it has handled ad sales for GB News, which launched in June.
Campaigning groups have urged advertisers to boycott the self-declared “anti-woke” TV news channel.