My Media Week: John Litster

John Litster: managing director, Sky Media
John Litster: managing director, Sky Media

Two months from on from Sky extending its deal with Viacom to handle Channel 5 ad sales, MediaWeek caught up with John Litster, managing director, Sky Media.


I like to start the working week with a run, so when my alarm goes off at 6.00am I am soon to be found pounding the Beckenham pavements with my two dogs.

Back home Sky Sports News is usually audible somewhere in the house, courtesy of my 16-year-old son, and I'll pick up snippets before catching the train to Victoria. I tend to get straight on to my emails, but if I get a seat I use The Times iPad app for the news.

My weeks vary a fair amount, but one constant is meeting with Sky's Group CFO Andrew Griffith at Sky's HQ in Osterley every Monday.

The Sky campus has developed a lot over the past couple of years, and we now meet in a variety of airy open-plan areas to discuss everything that’s going on.

Andrew is both supportive and challenging, and never fails to quiz me on the progress of Sky AdSmart, the service we launched last year, which lets us show different ads to different households watching the same programme.

The news so far has always been positive, and should continue to be for the foreseeable future.

While I'm in Osterley I also meet with Jonathan Licht, Sky Sports director of strategy and business development, to discuss the Premier League fixtures and what games we want to show in the season ahead.

The stakes are high, but I have faith in Jonathan's acumen, which has guided us well over the years.

My final meeting at HQ is a data roadmap meeting with some particularly clever people who almost blind me with science. However my default setting is to ask and ask again rather than leave doubt in my mind, and they’re happy to indulge me.

The day is done - it's a Monday after all. With Game of Thrones finished for now I'm at a loss TV-wise, but I'm encouraged to see my son Robert throw himself into catching up on the whole of series five and bringing him back into step with us.


Today kicks off with a monthly senior management meeting, where we update ourselves on systems, technology and partnerships. Frequently we'll ask an external guest to come in and tell us all about their world, but on this occasion we have plenty of internal things to discuss.

We're only two months in to representing Channel Five for Viacom, and there are lots of things to talk about and be aware of across linear, on demand and digital assets.

It's not all hard work though, and lunch with Claudine Collins from MediaCom follows. I've known Claudine for years and we have a dual corporate relationship in that MediaCom is Sky's media agency, while also being Sky Media’s largest single media buying agency. We are catching up to discuss a MediaCom Client day we will be jointly hosting at Osterley soon.

Later I catch up with Mark Collins of GroupM to check he’s a happy bunny, or as happy as he's going to be given that he’d always like more value or a lower price.

I wind down with the whole family in the evening, watching the final two episodes of ITV’s Black Work.


My only business breakfast of this week is with Azon Howie of Omnicom EMEA. Following Sky’s three-way merger with Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia some interesting opportunities lie ahead across the rest of 2015 and into 2016.

Following breakfast I stay in the centre of town for a meeting with Dave Lynn of Viacom. Viacom has invested heavily in its UK broadcast business and Dave is expecting to see healthy ad revenues coming in via Sky Media.

We cover a range of topics, and he compliments Sky Media on how well we've integrated the Channel 5 portfolio.

Back in Victoria and continuing the theme of earlier I host colleagues from Germany and Italy for a discussion about European ad sales, and to discuss common sponsorship properties.

Sky Media has been very UK and Ireland focused until recently, and I'm finding the European angle brings a new dimension to our conversations with some of the larger advertisers.


We have our six-monthly all-Staff forum, an all-day offsite meeting. We booked it months ago but last week it became clear that it was going to be disrupted by the tube strike. We could have cancelled it, losing thousands of pounds and the chance to come together, or plough on and hope everyone could get there (Tobacco Dock in Wapping).

In the event the overwhelming majority of our staff from Dublin, Manchester, Cardiff, Osterley and Victoria made it, plus all our roving sales people working on Sky AdSmart across the UK.

It is a warm and sunny day, perfect for a good mix of serious business and some team bonding that doesn't involve trying to cross the Thames on cardboard rafts, followed by some well-earned beers and Proseccos over a barbeque. If I was to summarise it in one word I'd say "laughter".


We present our Sky Entertainment upfronts to a cast of media agencies and advertisers at the Regent Street cinema.

Adam MacDonald, Head of Sky 1 talks the assembled crowd through our entertainment channels' positioning and gives a preview of upcoming content, which is all very well received.

It's then back to the office for a Thinkbox update with Lindsey Clay, before a well-earned weekend that just happens to promise all sorts of sporting action on TV…budge up son.

Age: 52
Favourite media: TV
My biggest inspiration: My Family
Dream job: I'm in it
One thing not a lot of people know about me... I once scored three own goals in one football match. I retired shortly afterwards, being good at reading the signs.

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