Sky plans to target wider social groups

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The Independent Online

Sky One, Sky's entertainment channel, plans to poach about 60 stars from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 over the next few years, the channel's new general manager, David Bergg, said yesterday.

Sky One, Sky's entertainment channel, plans to poach about 60 stars from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 over the next few years, the channel's new general manager, David Bergg, said yesterday.

The plan reflects an ambitious approach to tactical scheduling in which he hopes to draw big audiences from different demographic groups at different times of day, as well as inflict some damage on BBC and ITV audiences by the clever scheduling of new comedy and drama featuring newly acquired stars.

His aggressive pursuit of audiences will not be hampered by any of the public service duties that ensure BBC1 drama tackles difficult subjects. Yesterday, a Sky One presentation boasted that the channel contained "no news, no current affairs and no investigative documentaries".

Mr Bergg's main drawback will be a budget - of which he would not reveal details - that is tiny in comparison with the hundreds of millions of pounds spent by BBC1 and ITV, though he did point out that he had secured a budget increase of 60 per cent this year, which would be followed by further increases if his programme strategy proved to be successful.

Sky One is aiming chiefly at males aged 16 to 24, but Mr Bergg is hoping to widen the mix to include children and adults of both sexes up to the age of 50.

"I am going for the Sunny Delight audience," he said, "by which I mean families with parents in their thirties or forties who shop at Laura Ashley and Do-it-All and read Nick Hornby and Bridget Jones. They probably own two cars."

He added that he wanted Sky One to competewith the new genre-based BBC1 planned by the corporation's director of television, Mark Thompson.

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