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The Euro50 Q&A: Rob Webster, BSkyB

As commercial group director at BSkyB, Rob Webster has overseen a series of significant changes in the way the operator presents its content and a raft of new service launches.

Age 43

Education Southampton University, London College of Law

Previous positions All BSkyB since 1997: senior commercial lawyer; director of third party channels; director of channel and operations.

Last year’s highlights Working more closely with our partner channels to showcase the best of pay television, including concluding deals to elevate certain channels (MTV, Comedy Central, FX, Universal and SyFy) to more prominent positions on the Sky EPG.  Being promoted to the Sky Executive management team was a definite career highlight and a proud moment.

Most significant industry developments From a Sky perspective, I think it is the launch of Sky Atlantic, as the exclusive home of HBO content, and the acquisition of Formula 1 live rights.  Both deals demonstrate Sky’s commitment to bringing the best content to its pay customers.  From a wider industry perspective, I would say the explosion of devices, platform providers, and content apps on portable devices, all of which show the direction of travel of the industry.

Goals for next year To continue to work with partners to secure distribution rights across multiple platforms and devices, to explore business development and wholesale supply of Sky’s content opportunities, to play a central role in Sky’s overall strategic direction and to work on my fitness a bit more.

Industry challenges and opportunities I think the main challenges, apart from the very fragile economy, are all about clarity of message to the customer.  The proliferation of content providers and platforms can leave your head spinning.  So simplification and clear messaging, coupled with a value for money proposition, will be key.

Alternative career choice I started out as a commercial lawyer, so I guess I would have continued down that path.  I would have loved to have been a professional sportsman.

TV character most identified with The dad from Outnumbered.  If you are a parent…you will know!

Most admired personality David Brailsford (Head of Team Sky and GB cycling).  He has vision, drive and superb leadership qualities, but he also has integrity and humility – a rare combination.

Life outside work My three boys are involved in a range of sports at weekends, so mostly I am touchline dad (which I love) and chief taxi driver (which I love less).  Socialising regularly with close friends, often from school or university, is important to me. I play golf when I can and occasionally there is time left to watch some great pay TV!

Tags: BSkyB, UK

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