UK pay-TV giant BSkyB announced better-than-expected half-year operating profits this morning in London — and a major deal to expand its existing relationship with HBO. The pair has been cozy since 2010 when the Sky Atlantic channel became the “home of HBO” series. That exclusive first-run output deal will now be extended through 2020, giving Sky customers continued access to the entire HBO catalog including such shows as Game Of Thrones and Girls, as well as new series like True Detective and Looking. The extension of the pact could be worth up to £275M over five years. The partners have also committed to co-develop and produce what BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch calls, “epic drama of a truly spectacular scale.” The partners say they will make original drama series for broadcast on their respective networks and are looking at projects with the potential to run for multiple seasons. The high-end TV tax credit now flourishing in the UK has already brought American shows to shoot locally and this deal will likely see the Sky/HBO co-pros taking advantage of the incentives. The two companies will jointly finance the projects.
The moves come as the 21st Century Fox-controlled BSkyB has been fending off aggressive rival BT which has been muscling in on sports rights usually held by Sky. Movies and entertainment programming are the other key draws for Sky subscribers and today’s deal will see that offer bolstered. Sky has been on a drive to invest £600M a year in original British content and has committed to more than 100 hours of original drama this year. Sky Atlantic has already partnered with Canal Plus on The Tunnel, with BBC America on Fleming, and with Showtime on John Logan’s Penny Dreadful. Sky Living co-produces NBC series Dracula while Sky Arts has the Jon Hamm/Daniel Radcliffe series A Young Doctor’s Notebook. Click over for full details of the new HBO pact:
BSkyB (Sky) and Home Box Office (HBO) are to co-develop and produce new, original drama as part of an expanded partnership between the two companies. The collaboration includes an extended content output deal to ensure that Sky Atlantic remains the exclusive home of first-run HBO programmes in Britain and Ireland through 2020.
Under the new agreement, Sky and HBO will work together to develop and produce spectacular new drama series for broadcast on their networks in the UK, Ireland and the US. Their goal is to identify projects with the potential to run for multiple seasons and to commission these shows, with production to be jointly funded by the two companies.
The co-production agreement builds on the highly successful partnership that Sky and HBO have enjoyed since 2010, when the launch of Sky Atlantic reset the broadcasting landscape in the UK, spawning nearly a dozen “home of HBO” networks throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.
With the extended output deal, new HBO programmes – including True Detective and Looking – will continue to premiere exclusively on Sky Atlantic along with the return of award-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and Girls. In the three years since its launch, Sky Atlantic has become one of the strongest channel brands in British television and is now rated by Sky customers as one of the top three must-have pay TV networks.
In addition to linear broadcast, the output deal supports a broad range of multiplatform rights, ensuring HBO content will continue to be available live and on demand not just on TV, but online and on mobile through Sky Go. Sky Atlantic is also available live and on demand through NOW TV, Sky’s new internet TV service.
Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive, commented: “HBO is synonymous with must-see TV that pushes creative boundaries, so it’s no wonder that Sky Atlantic is such a hit with our customers. By expanding our relationship with HBO, we are strengthening our commitment to bring customers the very best content from around the world. Original production is the natural next step for our partnership with HBO and we are enormously excited at the prospect of working together to realise our shared vision for epic drama of a truly spectacular scale.”
Richard Plepler, CEO of Home Box Office, added: “The deal with Sky was trailblazing in that it served as a model for similar arrangements we entered into around the world, with Sky Atlantic held up as the gold standard. The team at Sky are true partners and the extension and expansion of our relationship feels like an obvious next step. We are proud to have HBO programming remain a part of the Sky offering and excited to add to it with our joint undertaking in new production.”
The new agreement with HBO complements Sky’s existing commitment to invest £600 million a year in original British content across its channels by 2014. As part of this investment, Sky has committed to more than 100 hours of original drama this year, with upcoming highlights including Fleming (Sky Atlantic) and The Smoke (Sky 1).