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HBO Releases Sky’s ‘Female Handbrake’

By | Monday August 2, 2010 @ 3:45am PDT

The British pay-TV giant is considering putting all its new HBO programmes on a single channel, rather than spreading them across the schedule. Sky thinks that having a single US drama channel will increase pay-TV take-up, especially among women.

It may not just be HBO shows on the channel. This morning’s Guardian reports that Sky is close to similar tie-ups with both Showtime and AMC, which would mean Mad Men, Dexter and Breaking Bad all going behind a pay-wall for at least five years.

Privately, Sky describes the lack of the women subscribers as the “female handbrake” holding it back. Sport and movies – famously described by Rupert Murdoch as the battering rams to drive pay-TV subscriptions – as well as its Sky One channel are really aimed at men and children.

David Elstein, former programming head of BSkyB, says HBO is the highest-quality content brand worldwide apart from the BBC. However, the Sky deal more of a risk from HBO’s point of view, the ex-boss of Channel Five told the BBC. Elstein said HBO must be getting a lot more cash from Sky for an exclusive deal, rather than selling shows piecemeal to the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.

TV analyst Claire Enders describes the Sky/HBO deal as a “historic move” to sever the BBC off from one of its chief suppliers. Given the UK government talking about freezing or cutting … Read More »

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Sky To Become HBO’s Home In Britain

The pay-TV giant has struck an exclusive output deal to be the only place to watch HBO shows from now on. Boardwalk Empire, Martin Scorsese’s series about Atlantic City gangsters, will be the first show to air through the deal in the autumn. Future HBO shows airing exclusively will include Game of Thrones and Luck, executive produced by Michael Mann and starring Dustin Hoffman. The next series of HBO shows such as Entourage and Big Love will also air exclusively on the channel.

The output deal also gives Sky on-demand rights to hit HBO shows such as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.

Sky is throwing huge amounts of money at programming. It wants to get away from the downmarket image it’s saddled with. Many early adopters lived on council estates – think housing projects – peppering the skyline with satellite dishes. Sky is pulling strenuously upmarket. It’s just announced that it’s taking over ITV’s prestigious arts programme The South Bank Show. And it’s pouring big money into original drama such as Terry Pratchett TV movies and adaptations of crime author Martina Cole.

This year, Sky will spend £1.7 billion ($2.7 billion) on content – most of it on movies and sports rights though. By contrast, ITV will spend £1 billion, Channel 4 £550 million and Channel Five £165 million.

Meanwhile, BSkyB has just announced its fourth-quarter results for the year ending … Read More »

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