NTL Telewest reviews sales plans after Virgin merger

NTL Telewest is reviewing the sales arrangements for blueyonder.co.uk, currently handled by Ad 2-one, following its £1bn merger with Virgin Mobile.

NTL Telewest announced last week that it was to rebrand as Virgin Media from January, with the new entity's web properties - virgin.net, ntlworld.com and blueyonder.co.uk - merging to become virginmedia.com.

Online ad sales for Virgin.net and ntlworld.com are both handled by the in-house Virgin team, while blueyonder.co.uk is represented by Ad 2-one. Ntlworld.com was represented by 24/Real Media until February this year.

It is understood that discussions are being held with Ad 2-one on its relationship with blueyonder, but both firms declined to comment on what the outcome might be.

Virginmedia.com will be a portal where users can access content including video on demand. The company recently signed a deal to secure the rights to clips of Premiership football.

NTL Telewest also owns content division Flextech Television, which provides television channels for the UK multichannel TV market such as LIVINGtv, LIVINGtv 2, Bravo, Challenge, Trouble and Ftn, and is a 50% partner in UKTV.

Virgin.net already streams video content, including an entertainment news update. It also contains movies and sports coverage. Telewest's site, blueyonder.com features, details on TV, broadband and telephony deals, but also has entertainment content such as news, music and gaming. Ntlworld.co.uk has various entertainment sections and details of packages, and includes boxes to access price comparison site shopping.com and auction site eBay.

Ernie Cormier, NTL Telewest's chief commercial officer, said: "Virgin.net is already one of the leading portals in the UK. We are currently gathering more and more content and partners to deliver the portal."

Cormier added that the existing website brands would not be switched off when virginmedia.com was up and running, but that there will be "a migration plan".

Although the company will now be called Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile will retain its brand identity. Until the rebrand in early 2007, NTL Telewest will continue to provide services under its existing brand name.

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