A key sponsor of the Spikes Asia advertising congress, BBC World News used that forum to announce that 24-hour linear channel BBC Knowledge would be carrying advertising from mid-October. Senior executives were tight-lipped as to which marketers would be that channel’s pioneer advertisers, but did say they will be building upon BBC World News’ existing clients as well as targeting new advertisers. Sales will be managed by BBC Worldwide Asia’s advertising sales team based in Singapore, whose sales portfolio already includes BBC World News, BBC.com and BBC mobile. Sunita Rajan, VP sales – Asia & Australasia, BBC Worldwide Channels Asia said that viewers have responded well to BBC Knowledge in the region. Said Rajan, “With its unique mix of premium factual entertainment from one of the world’s largest and most reputable documentary producers, the BBC, BBC Knowledge offers an attractive environment for advertisers to reach an upscale audience.” Since BBC Knowledge launched in Asia in 2007, it has been ranked as one of viewers’ favourite factual channels and is carried by cable and satellite operators in Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and South Korea. Outside Asia, BBC Knowledge has extended its reach to Poland, South Africa, Australia and Scandinavia. September 2009 saw the appointment of Hong Kong-based Kerry Tarrant, as regional director, advertising sales – Greater China, as part of the pan-regional sales team to setup, build and support domestic and international ad sales for BBC assets across TV and digital platforms. Rajan commented that, “(Tarrant’s) extensive experience, skills and insights that she will bring to the table will contribute to our next phase of growth which will include introducing commercial opportunities for new products in the BBC’s portfolio of TV and digital assets.” Also in Singapore for Spikes Asia, Chris Dobson, general manager and executive vice president of global advertising sales, said that distribution in Singapore had been pivotal in the decision to introduce advertising on BBC Knowledge. “Obviously another half a million homes, in an upscale market like Singapore, was a tipping point,” he said, of BBC Worldwide Channels’ move from SingTel mio TV to StarHub Digital Cable TV on 1 August 2009. When it was pointed out that sibling brand BBC Entertainment has been with StarHub all along but advertising had not yet been introduced on that channel, Dobson said that BBC Knowledge had a closer affinity with audiences and advertisers for BBC World News, which has carried ads for 12 years. BBC Knowledge showcases the best of the BBC’s award-winning factual and documentary programmes. The channel offers viewers five key programming strands: The World; Science and Technology; People; The Past; and Business. Viewers can watch, first and exclusively, top rated programmes like Top Gear; and the recent channel premiere of Earth – The Power of the Planet, a comprehensive history of the life story of our planet, how it works, and what makes it so special. October saw BBC Knowledge premier the landmark BBC series, The Story of India; and the channels also offers a business strand. Series featured in the ‘On the Money’ strand on Monday nights include The Apprentice (UK), Dragon’s Den and Secret Millionaire. There is currently one pan-Asian feed for BBC Knowledge. In Singapore and Hong Kong, the channel is fully subtitled in Chinese. In Indonesia, it is subtitled in Bahasa Indonesia. Television Asia Plus also asked whether the push for advertising on BBC Knowledge, and the recent launch of a print publication for the channel brand, had anything to do with the fact that BBC Worldwide Channels Asia’s SVP and GM Mark Whitehead joined the company from the ad sales side of rival factual brand Discovery – which also publishes a magazine. Dobson said that Whitehead’s primary role is to expand distribution of the channel brands, but that he “obviously has a very good insight into the commercial implications of that task.” BBC Magazines licensed specialist factual title BBC Knowledge to Singapore publisher Regent Media who started publishing the magazine across Asia from September 2009. This is the third licence for BBC Knowledge magazine, which is already sold in the USA and Brazil. The first Asian issue went on sale 1 September 2009, priced S$7.50, with an initial print run of 80,000: 25,000 copies (Singapore); 25,000 (Malaysia); 30,000 (other parts of Asia). BBC Worldwide’s Global Advertising Sales team is also responsible for international sales across BBC Worldwide Channels and BBC World News on TV, online with the BBC’s international ad funded website BBC.com and its corresponding international mobile site. And BBC.com’s traffic in Asia Pacific has significantly grown in monthly reach by 21 percent in Q2 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest results delivered by ComScore. The number of visitors per month has now risen to 8.4 million in the region. BBC.com provides comprehensive news, sport, weather, business, technology and lifestyle content. The latest ComScore records show considerable peaks in traffic in Asia Pacific particularly during key world events during this time that have included the India elections, the swine flu epidemic, and Iranian elections.