How News Corp is revolutionising the UK commercial radio model

• Sky partnership means the new Virgin Radio Chris Evans Breakfast Show will run with no ad-breaks (sort of)

With just two shows left on BBC Radio 2 (last day is Christmas Eve) where he hosts the biggest breakfast show in the UK, Chris Evans has been out spruiking his new home.

Earlier this year Evans revealed he has signed a new contract with Virgin Radio to host the breakfast show. Virgin Radio is part of the Wireless Group, which is owned by News Corporation.

The new Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio will launch in the UK on 21 January 2019 and it is being claimed it will instantly redefine commercial radio at breakfast with a show completely free of ad breaks, in partnership with Sky.

While there will be no ad breaks, there will be plenty of sponsored content and presumably mentions of that sponsor, Sky.

Wireless this week revealed a new commercial model for the program:

In a groundbreaking partnership, agreed in principle between Virgin Radio UK and Sky, Chris Evans will broadcast his breakfast show on Virgin Radio without any ad breaks.

Sky’s sponsorship will provide investment to create branded content, competitions and events.

Chris Evans said: “So much has changed in broadcasting since I was last at Virgin Radio that now, thanks to Sky, we can do the show without ad breaks. I’m even more excited about starting in the New Year!”

Stephen van Rooyen, CEO UK & Ireland, Sky, said: “The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio will bring audiences something completely new, bold and fresh – everything we love at Sky. We’re excited to create an innovative radio first with Chris and Virgin Radio, and bring Sky customers even more of the entertainment they love when Virgin Radio launches across Sky from January 7.”

A statement from Virgin Radio said the partnership between Virgin Radio UK and Sky means listeners will have the same uninterrupted audio experience they’ve come to expect from Chris Evans’s award-winning BBC Radio 2 show.

Virgin will be able to recreate that audio experience with the help of many of the team who worked at the BBC with Evans who are also moving across to Virgin.

The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio will be available online, on mobile via the Virgin Radio app and on DAB digital radio. And in a nice piece of cross promotion, Virgin Radio will launch on Sky+ and Sky Q on 7 January 2019, two weeks before Evans starts.

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