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Five Getting Cut-Price ‘Big Brother’ Bargain

Richard Desmond, new owner of Channel 5, could pay as little as £20 million ($30 million) for the reality show, one insider tells me. Desmond wants the Endemol show to transfer from Channel 4, where it ended its 11th series this week, to his new Channel 5. Channel 4 paid £60-65 million in a three-year deal for the Big Brother rights from Endemol. Like Desmond’s audacious £103.5 million swoop on Channel Five, it’s not as if there are any other bidders out there. Big Brother has been getting average daily ratings of 2.5 million – an all-time low for the reality show on Channel 4 – and would probably get 1.5-2 million daily on Channel 5. That is still healthy for a channel whose top-rated daily show, Aussie soap Neighbours, gets around 1.5 million viewers.

Even more important is the audience Big Brother attracts. Channel Five doesn’t need any more downmarket, older viewers. They’re the easiest to attract because they spend all day watching TV at home. The hardest market for advertisers are young, upmarket audiences, the demographic which watches the least TV — which Big Brother delivered in droves when it first launched. Media commentator Steve Hewlett tells me: “I can see the commercial logic for Desmond wanting Big Brother if it has any life left in it. The show still has a commercial value in the marketplace because of its audience.”

Desmond has talked publicly about how he wants the … Read More »

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Five Promises ‘Astounding’ Acquisitions

That’s what CEO Dawn Airey told senior managers at a group meeting this morning. Richard Desmond, Five’s new owner, told Sky News that he’s planning to invest £50-100 million ($77-155 million) in Five’s schedule. He can afford it. The Sunday Times Rich List has estimated his personal fortune to be just under £1 billion.

But before Hollywood executives start popping the California champagne, they should know Desmond plans to renegotiate some of Five’s studio deals. This is because many of Five’s current studio deals are loss-making. It has to pay out every time it screens a movie, rarely making enough ad revenue back to cover the cost.

Desmond has underlined his desire to keep US shows such as CSI though as well as Australian soap Home and Away. Indeed, he doesn’t have an option with Home and Away. Five is tied into a lifetime deal for the soap.

Other programming ideas mooted include reviving BBC pop chart show Top of the Pops and taking Big Brother over from Channel 4, splitting revenue with Endemol. Desmond’s papers have a strong relationship with the reality show. Forget Afghanistan or the economic crisis: the front page of tabloid Daily Star always splashes with what’s going on inside the Big Brother house.

Airey told senior managers this morning that Desmond’s team from his company Northern & Shell are going to spend several weeks getting to know the business before making any decisions about the channel’s future direction.

However, Airey … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Desmond Buys Five For $160M

By | Friday July 23, 2010 @ 10:45am PDT

The UK newspaper baron is apparently thinking of transforming Five into a UK version of E! Entertainment, the US channel which broadcasts a stream of celebrity news and profiles. Apart from owning the tabloid Daily Express, Richard Desmond also owns weekly OK! — a downmarket version of Spain’s ¡Hola! – which seems to come from a Bizarro alternate universe of celebrities such as former topless model Jordan and various other reality TV stars. The Five deal marks the first time a private individual has ever owned a UK public-service network.

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Richard Desmond Offers $150M For Five

FiveThe newspaper tycoon is in pole position to win control of Five, reports the Sunday Times. Deadline predicted Desmond would take over the channel three weeks ago. Desmond will honour long-term US programming contracts for shows include CSI and Law & Order, but will bring in more reality TV and chat-shows. Endemol is interested in bringing its Big Brother over to Five even though it decided not to bid for the channel. Desmond will also maintain Five’s public-service commitments – i.e. regular news bulletins – in order to keep that valuable high ranking on pay-TV electronic programme guides. But staff members are braced for redundancies.

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Who’s Not Bidding For UK’s Channel Five

FiveEXCLUSIVE: The European TV producer Endemol will not be among those bidding for the UK’s fifth terrestrial channel. ITV has also walked away from the auction, as has BSkyB and Time Warner. Endemol’s founder John De Mol is bidding, as is Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers. Endemol may still try and get its Big Brother TV show on Five though. RTL wants up to $234 million for the loss-making TV channel. This is beginning to resemble a game of musical chairs. Every time the music stops, another would-be bidder walks off. Endemol was unavailable for comment.

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Newspaper Tycoon Tipped To Win Five

FiveRichard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers, is seen as a frontrunner to buy UK terrestrial channel Five. Other bidders include John De Mol, founder of TV producer Endemol (Big Brother), and Endemol itself, which De Mol’s investment company Cyrte Investments owns one third of.

You may wonder, as I have, why De Mol would want to bid against a company he indirectly owns part of? The answer is, apparently, that there’s no love lost between De Mol and the company he co-founded back in the 1990s. De Mol’s Cyrte Investments has reportedly teamed up with Talpa Media and Greece’s Antenna Group for De Mol’s personal bid, says the Financial Times.

Analysts believe that RTL wants up to $245 million for Five. It is difficult to put a price on Five because, although it is loss-making, it has a strategic value which belies its place in the market. Five also owns desirable slots on the Freeview digital terrestrial TV service. Like newspapers, there’s bragging rights in owning a TV station. Not many come up for sale. That’s why they’re so prized.

Desmond is a colourful character with a £950 million ($1.4 billion) fortune. His TV interests include digital porn channels Television X and Red Hot TV.

BSkyB was kicking the tyres on Five, as was Time Warner, but both have walked away.

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