Channel 4 loses ‘Lost’ to rival

Sky shells out for seasons 3, 4

LONDON — U.K. satcaster Sky has outbid Channel 4 for the third and fourth seasons of “Lost” in a deal that represents one of the highest license fees ever paid by a British broadcaster for a U.S. show.

Sky is likely to have forked out around $1 million an episode for the Buena Vista drama, repping a total outlay of about $44 million.

The satcaster declined to put a figure on the purchase, but said it was the most it had spent on a U.S. import.

Channel 4, which showed the first two seasons of “Lost” in Blighty, was given the chance to match Sky’s bid but declined.

Sky is attempting to revamp its flagging flagship web Sky One, so landing the next two seasons of “Lost” should be a boost to repositioning the web.

But it remains to be seen if Sky’s money turns out to be well spent.

Ratings for the recent second season of “Lost” on Channel 4 slumped to an average of 2.8 million, vs. an average of 4.1 million for the debut run.

However, Sky One’s controller, the recently appointed Richard Woolfe, was ecstatic at poaching one of Channel 4’s brand-defining shows.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to bring ‘Lost’ to Sky One,” Woolfe said. “The series has defined TV drama over the last two years and has been the envy of every network.

“Today’s audiences demand more quality and flexibility than ever before, so we are intending to use various digital media platforms (including mobile and broadband) to make ‘Lost’ available to our customers when they want and how they want … ensuring that they never miss the mysterious goings-on of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.”

The lost of “Lost” comes just as Channel 4 is preparing to unveil its vaunted VOD service and as it suffers from the lack of advertising coin that’s affecting all U.K. commercial channels.

However, Sky is less dependent on ad coin than C4 because it is a subscription-funded service.

C4 now will be pinning its hopes on telenovela “Ugly Betty,” which it snapped up at the L.A. Screenings.

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