Sky today announced plans for Sky Studios, a new Europe-wide development and production capability.

“The competition for eyeballs and, ultimately, subscribers shows no signs of relenting with Sky’s plans to double its investment in original content in a bid to retain customers and counter the ever-growing threats of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Sky could not have picked a better time to announce this, following the incredible success of Chernobyl, the highest-rated television show in history and a huge hit with viewers. It is this kind of original content that Sky is signalling it wants to increase.” – Dani Warner, broadband and TV expert at uSwitch.com

With the backing of new owners Comcast, under the Sky Studios plan Sky’s investment in originals will more than double from the current level over the next five years. The announcement comes after the recent smash hit success of Chernobyl, which has been the most successful Sky original production ever, a record number of BAFTA winners for Sky, as well as several other European successes such as Das Boot and Gomorrah.

Sky’s increasing success with original productions, coupled with the ability to partner with NBC and Universal, puts Sky in a strong position to extend its leadership in this increasingly global, profitable, and strategically important area. Sky Studios will create new productions for Sky channels, NBC Broadcast and cable, and Universal Pictures as well as for other distribution outlets.

“In content terms, this is the first real show of muscle from new owners Comcast. Premium content both drives conversation and hype, and is popular with viewers – but it doesn’t come cheap. Traditionally, broadcasters have been unable to compete with the financial clout of the online heavyweights, with shows like The Crown and the forthcoming Lord of the Rings demanding budgets beyond the capabilities of Sky, but that seems to be changing. Sky has a large subscriber base but its monthly cost is far greater than Netflix or Amazon Prime, and it faces a constant need to be seen to deliver value.”  – Dani Warner, broadband and TV expert at uSwitch.com

“This is a transformational development for us. Sky Studios will drive our vision to be the leading force in European content development and production. Our ambition is to make Sky Studios famous for quality content and a place where Europe’s top creatives will want to do their best work. Being part of Comcast enables us to increase our investment and to maximise the advantage and leverage of the Sky Group and our partners, NBCUniversal. This is a clear signal of Comcast’s belief in our commitment to producing the best original content in Europe.” – Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky,

Sky Studios will produce and develop original content across all genres, with a focus on drama and comedy. With the emphasis firmly on quality, Sky Studios plans to double the amount of originals currently produced by Sky. It will work in close collaboration with local Sky leadership teams.

Production will begin next month on Sky Studios’ first international project, a 6-part drama called The Third Day, a co-production with HBO and starring Jude Law. Sky Studios will be led by Gary Davey, CEO, who is currently Sky UK’s Managing Director of Content.

‘Studios’ as a production brand is the in-word at the moment with both BBC Productions and ITV Productions both re-branding in the past decade to BBC Studios and ITV Studios respectively. Gary Davey, CEO of Sky Studios noted that the venture was ‘perfectly timed’ as it meets ‘the growing demands of our customers’. Davey added that Sky ‘looked forward to working with the whole creative community’. with the new division.

“It is Sky’s NOW TV service that may prove to be its future – competing directly with its online rivals in terms of price and now high quality content as well. Many of its premium shows have been American imports on its popular Sky Atlantic channel but original content will allow Sky to have its own points of difference and remain competitive in a fascinating era for television.” – Dani Warner, broadband and TV expert at uSwitch.com

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