Virgin Media calls in Sparkler to review its pay-TV portfolio

LONDON - Virgin Media Television has called in brand consultancy Sparkler to lead a review of its pay-TV port­folio, with the evolution of its online presence key to the broadcaster's plans.

Living hit show Britain's Next Top Model
Living hit show Britain's Next Top Model

Jonny Webb, managing director of Virgin Media Television, said the company was "picking the business apart and looking at where it should be in 2012".

He said the development of pay- TV channel Living "in other forms off screen" was the main priority this year. "In a world of digital media, it is all about brands. We are a brand-led business so we have got a head start.

"Living is the strongest in multi­channel to be a standout brand. We can bring it to life off screen, so we are looking at in what other forms it could exist off screen."

Virgin Media TV is expected to ramp up its online presence by creating communities around its channels. Earlier this year it merged its female-focused Siren portal with Livingtv.co.uk as part of a plan to create one of the country's top five women's websites.

Webb said: "We are getting seven million page impressions a month, so there are opportunities off screen."

He said that Sparkler, which has worked with UKTV, Virgin Media's joint-venture with BBC Worldwide, as well as the likes of BBC News and Ofcom in the past, had been recruited to focus on the "opportunities for growth and where we can take the brands next", but not on rebranding the channels themselves.

He denied that Virgin Media TV was concerned about the performance of its pay-TV channels.
"Commercial impacts for the portfolio are up 10% year on year, for the year to date," he said.
"Living is in good shape, with new shows such as Bands Go Pop. The number one priority for Living is talkability."

Living had a 0.6% share of total viewing for June. Top performing TV programmes in recent weeks have been Ghost Whisperer, Criminal Minds and Britain's Next Top Model.

Virgin Media TV is also concentrating on improving sister channel Trouble's offering.
Vizeum broadcast director Simon Bevan said: "Trouble is good for reaching the teen audience. Living is definitely its most prominent channel and in the best health."

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