U.K. net nabs best-ever ad revenue

Once struggling U.K. terrestrial web Channel 5 is expected to register record advertising growth this year thanks to a diet of U.S. imports, “Big Brother” and a smart, multi-platform ad sales strategy introduced by its new owner.

Richard Desmond paid £103.5 million ($161 million) for the ailing web in summer 2010, which is set to take more than $543 million in ad coin in 2011, up 28% year on year.

This will be the biggest haul in the broadcaster’s 14 years on air. It was previously owned by pan-European giant RTL.

Desmond has cut costs and, crucially, sold innovative deals to advertisers across his U.K. TV, print and online interests, which include the Daily Express daily paper and OK! magazine.

Ad sales topper Nick Bampton, a former Viacom U.K. exec who joined Channel 5 a year ago, said: “Channel 5 has just recorded an unprecedented year of advertising growth after attracting new revenue from right across the board.

“Positioning the broadcaster as part of a wider group-sell with the magazines and newspapers has enabled us to have bigger conversations with all of our major advertisers.”

“Big Brother,” which Channel 5 bought in April following months of negotiations with Endemol, has helped beef up the web’s popularity with the under-35s, much in demand from advertisers.

It also generates some of its highest audiences for Hollywood movies and U.S. fare including “The Mentalist” and the “CSI” franchise, plus Australian soap imports “Home and Away” and “Neighbours.”

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