Sky, Discovery Expand New Long-Term Partnership

Comcast-owned Sky and Discovery have agreed on a new long-term, multi-faceted partnership across the U.K, and Ireland, Germany and Austria. Discovery’s portfolio of real-life entertainment channels, including Discovery Channel, will continue to be showcased across the Sky platforms in the U.K., and on the Sky Deutschland platforms in Germany and Austria. The Discovery Channel will continue to be available on the Now TV platform in the U.K. and Sky Ticket in Germany.

The deal includes linear channel distribution, video-on-demand, direct-to-consumer products, and extension of the advertising relationship.

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For the first time, the multiyear deal also covers Discovery’s non-linear brands in the U.K. and Ireland. Sky will be a distribution partner for Discovery’s existing direct-to-consumer streaming services such as MotorTrend, and new products from the future pipeline of Discovery’s direct-to-consumer offerings.

“We bring together the best content from partners like Discovery, HBO and Showtime, add it to the best live sport in Europe, our award-winning Sky Originals and apps we love like Netflix, and put it all in one place on the world’s best platform, Sky Q,” Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of U.K.  and Europe for Sky, said in a statement.

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Sky Q and Eurosport will also be working together to bring the best possible experience to customers across the U.K. and Ireland for the 2021 Olympics with UHD and HD pop up feeds dedicated to specific sports and events.

As part of the expanded deal, Sky Media and Discovery renewed their advertising sales partnership in the U.K. and Ireland while creating new opportunities for advertisers in VOD and via AdSmart. Reaching more than 95% of the U.K. population, Sky Media represents all of Sky’s channels and also sells on behalf of a range of renowned broadcasters and channels including Channel 5, Viacom and Discovery.

“Sky and Discovery have been working together for more than 30 years to bring audiences the best in real-life entertainment,” added Kasia Kieli, president and MD for Discovery EMEA. “We are very pleased that our strategic relationship continues to grow, and our new multi-dimensional agreement means Sky customers can continue to enjoy our wide range of factual, sport, lifestyle and entertainment channels and programs for years to come.”

U.K. Remains Netflix’s No. 2 Subscriber Market

The United Kingdom was Netflix’s second international market launch in 2012 following Canada in 2010. Through the first quarter 2020, the U.K. now represents slightly more than 13 million Netflix subs — second-largest behind North America with 69.9 million.

New data from Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board found that Netflix’s appeal in the U.K. after eight years remains strong, with the SVOD pioneer upping its sub base 13.4% from 11.46 million in 2019. Amazon Prime Video upped it sub base 32% to nearly 7.9 million homes, while Sky’s Now TV is found in 1.6 million homes.

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In Q4 2019, the proportion of homes with at least one SVOD subscription was 50.5%, a majority of homes for the first time. That percentage now tops 53% at 15 million. The percentage of homes with at least two services reached 24%, or 6.67 million homes.

Netflix and Amazon saw similar levels of growth in the number of households that subscribe to their services,” BARB wrote in a statement. “Amazon’s increase represents a larger year-on-year percentage growth versus Netflix’s due to Amazon’s lower number of household subscribers.”

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NBCUniversal, Sky Partner on Joint Advertising Platform

NBCUniversal and sister company Sky have launched of an advertising partnership enabling the companies’ original content to be available for purchase through NBCUniversal’s upstart “One Platform.”

Leadership of the new global division will be announced in the coming weeks, and will report into NBCUniversal Chairwoman Linda Yaccarino as well as partner closely with Sky Chief Business Officer Patrick Béhar.

NBCUniversal parent Comcast acquired U.K. satellite TV operator Sky for $39 billion in 2018.

With many consumers stuck at home during mandated government quarantine measures, domestic TV viewership is expected to add 8.3 million viewers in 2020 — the first increase since 2011, according to eMarketer.

With the global coronavirus pandemic upending traditional advertising strategies, NBCUniversal’s One Platform aims to give marketers access to premium content and advanced advertising capabilities that NBCU and Sky each bring to market.

Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky’s combined $24 billion investment in original content ranges from “Saturday Night Live” to “Game of Thrones,” as well international news efforts. NBCUniversal and Sky claim to reach an audience that spans more than half a billion viewers every month in more than 160 countries.

“At a time when lots and lots of companies are slashing their ad budgets, or at least pausing them, now the supply of viewing time or ad inventory exceeds the demand from advertisers to fill it,” Ross Benes, analyst at eMarketer, told CNBC. “It’s great to get people to watch your show, but each viewer is being monetized much lower than they were months ago.”

One Platform hopes to remedy that issue.

Germany’s Bundesliga Soccer to Resume on May 16

Germany’s Bundesliga professional soccer league is set to become one of the first sports organizations in the world to resume play on May 16. All remaining nine weekend games of the season will be played in empty stadiums for televised and streaming video audiences. The league has been suspended since March 13.

The German Football Association says the matches would run under strict health protocols, including requiring players have regular COVID-19 tests.

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Comcast’s Sky Deutschland will broadcast all games live in Germany and Austria. Pay-TV operator BT Sports has Bundesliga rights in the U.K. is reportedly considering broadcasting the games for free (with ads).

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Sky Selling Theatrical Releases in the Home

With the shutdown of theatres worldwide, satellite TV operator Sky has begun offering digital video access to select theatrical releases in the home. The move is the latest among media companies upending traditional distribution channels as consumers face quarantine situations against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sky, which is owned by Comcast, parent of NBCUniversal, has 24 million customers across seven countries in Europe. It is following a strategy taken by Universal Pictures in the United States, which has begun offering digital retail access to select theatrical movies.

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Sky Store will have a range of NBCU titles available the same day as their global cinema release. They will be priced at £15.99 ($18.99). This is available for Sky+ and Sky Q subscribers. Sky Store digital sales typically include a DVD backup sent in the mail.

The program begins with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour April 6. This is the first time customers have been able to rent NBCUniversal movies as soon as they hit cinemas. On March 20, The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma will also be available on-demand on Sky Store, following their recent release in cinemas.

“We’re working hard at Sky to make sure we continue to look after our customers,” Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO of Sky UK and Europe, said in a statement. “We’re also introducing some things to help make life a little easier for anyone at home trying to work, stay connected to loved ones, or keep the family entertained.”

During the ongoing pandemic, Sky will also make it “Go Extra” platform available free to all customers so European households have access to Sky TV on three screens at the same time. Calls to U.K. landlines any time of day will be free for existing Sky Talk customers through the end of April.

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Sky Mobile subscribers will get an extra 10GB data free added to their accounts. Call centers and engineers will prioritize the needs of existing customers to ensure their service keeps running smoothly.

Premium platform Sky Q will soon add over-the-top video platform Disney+ (March 24), in addition to YouTube Kids.

 

Sky Bows ‘Ultimate TV’ With Netflix

The day after announcing a marketing deal with Disney for the European launch of the Disney+ subscription streaming video platform, Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky unveiled a new premium content bundle that includes Netflix.

“Sky Ultimate TV” on Sky Q is a £25 ($36) monthly bundle that features every episode of Sky shows and includes access to Netflix.

Sky originals include Emmy award-winning “Chernobyl,” “Catherine the Great,” “Brassic,” and U.S. comedies “Girls” and “Parks & Recreation” or “Sex Education,” “The Witcher,” “Narcos: Mexico” and “Stranger Things” on Netflix.

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The enhanced partnership between pay-TV operator Sky and Netflix (which began in 2018) underscores ongoing shifts in consumer video viewing habits.

Netflix through the third quarter last year had more than 11.8 million subscribers in the U.K., according to Statista. That tally is said to have surpassed Sky’s U.K. sub total around 12 million.

Sky Q  subscribers also get live TV, “Catch-Up TV,” BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and “All 4,” as well as apps from YouTube, Spotify and XITE, among others.

“With the launch of Sky Ultimate TV, all our customers will get the most talked-about shows from Sky TV and Netflix,” Liz Wynn, managing director, Sky TV, said in a statement. “From ‘Save Me’ to ‘The Crown,’ you’ll get all the episodes whenever you want them, all in one place on our award-winning Sky Q box.”

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Sky Ultimate TV includes Netflix Basic, but subs can upgrade to Ultra HD and Netflix Premium for an additional £10 ($12.82) a month.

Comcast claims 2020 is set to be the biggest year ever for Sky TV, with 80 Sky originals on air and a 40% boost to U.S. content. This includes the brand new Sky Comedy channel, with Sky Documentaries, Sky Nature and Sky History channels.

Pending Sky originals include thriller “Gangs of London”; “Breeders,” a parenting comedy with Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard; “Save Me Too,” a British drama from the producers of “Line of Duty” with Lennie James and Suranne Jones and “I hate Suzie,” a drama starring Billie Piper.

 

Comcast’s Sky Inks Disney+ Streaming Deal

Comcast-owned satellite TV distributor Sky and Disney March 3 announced a new multiyear distribution deal, making Disney’s subscription streaming video platform (Disney+) available for purchase in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Sky Q, to be followed by Sky’s Now TV in the coming months.

Disney+ launches in the U.K., Ireland and other European countries on March 24. Sky Q currently offers direct access to Netflix, in addition to new deals with the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Warner Media Entertainment.

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The agreement between erstwhile competitors Comcast and Disney gives Sky subscribers direct access to Disney+ original series such as “The Mandalorian” and “High School Musical: The Musical, The Series” and “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” among others.

As the deal also includes first-pay window access to 20th Century Fox movies, including Ford v Ferrari (known as Le Mans ’66 in some international markets) and Terminator: Dark Fate, a Paramount movie for which Fox has international distribution rights.

“We are delighted that Sky is selling the Disney+ service on their platform and, along with our other distribution partners, will deliver exceptional reach at launch,” Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney direct-to-consumer & international, said in a statement.

Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive at Sky, said the two companies have established a “strong partnership” over three decades.

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“This is a great start to what is set to be another stellar year for Sky — in 2020 we’ll launch new channels and genres, start building Sky Studios Elstree and we’ve got brilliant new and returning originals coming too,” Darroch said.

Comcast’s Sky Unveils Largest-Ever Original Content Slate

To better compete against Netflix and Disney+ in the United Kingdom and Europe, Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky has unveiled a slate of 80 original programs — its largest ever.

The content slate includes an increase of 25% from 2019; 40% boost to U.S. content & 10 new commissions, including a collaboration between Sky Studios, HBO, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Productions for “The Third Day,” dubbed the world’s first immersive TV drama with an innovative live event staged as part of the series.

The slate was unveiled at Sky’s “Up Next” showcase event at the Tate Modern on Feb 12 in London, where the broadcaster shared previews of brand-new shows with talent, including “Friends” con-star David Schwimmer, Nick Mohammed, Maisie Williams, Billie Piper, Dynamo, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan.

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Other Sky content partners include Netflix, BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

“2020 is going to be the best year yet for content on Sky — we have new channels like Sky Comedy, Sky Nature and Sky Documentaries launching,” Group CEO Jeremy Darroch said in a statement.

Sky, which Comcast acquired for $39 billion, said it is “committed” to more than double investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios, as well as the proposed development of Sky Studios Elstree, a new TV and film studio in North London.

Among new original programming announced are:
The Tail of The Curious Mouse (w/t), a story about Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter; “Bloods,” a paramedic comedy; “Safe Space,” a comedy pilot written by and starring Greg Davies as a demotivated small-time psychotherapist.

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“Intelligence,” the comedy created by and starring Nick Mohammed, alongside David Schwimmer, is confirmed for a second instalment ahead of the first series airing next week.

“Urban Myths,” the International Emmy Award-nominated series returns for a fourth outing with Steve Pemberton, Robbie Coltrane, Kara Tointon and Katherine Ryan.

“Cobra,” the high-stakes political drama, starring Robert Carlyle and Victoria Hamilton returns for a second series after becoming one of Sky One’s most successful drama series in recent years, with a launch audience of 2.2 million.

Already set to air on Sky in 2020: The Third Day (Jude Law, Naomie Harris), I Hate Suzie (Billie Piper), Save Me Too (Lennie James, Suranne Jones, Lesley Manville), Breeders (Martin Freeman, Daisy Haggard), and The Trip to Greece (Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon).

Key acquired shows for 2020 include “The Plot Against America” (starring Winona Ryder), “The Undoing” (starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman), “Run” (written by Vicky Jones and exec produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” (starring Natalie Dormer) and the award-winning “Succession” (starring Brian Cox).

 

Sky, Disney+ Finalizing Direct Access Deal

Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky reportedly is in the final stages securing distribution of Disney’s branded subscription streaming video service, Disney+, which bows in Europe March 24.

The Sunday Telegraph, which cited sources familiar with the situation, reported the deal would be exclusive and similar to Sky’s distribution of Netflix and other third-party services.

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Netflix and Sky partnered in 2018, with the latter offering subscribers two tiers of Netflix service at separate price points.

Such pay-TV deals have been integral to Netflix expanding its subscriber footprints in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The partnerships include more than apps. Pay-TV subs are given access to Netflix programming on Sky’s homepage.

Partnership with Sky could help Disney+ gain a foothold in Europe as it chases its 60 million to 90 million subscriber goal by 2024, while enabling easier SVOD access for pay-TV customers.

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Netflix, Sky Re-Up Distribution Agreement

Comcast’s love affair with Netflix expands overseas. The cable giant’s Sky satellite TV subsidiary in the United Kingdom has renewed a distribution agreement with Netflix first inked in 2018.

Under terms of the new deal, Sky subscribers will be able to access Netflix on Sky Q, including Netflix originals “The Witcher,” The Irishman and “Sex Education.”

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“This is a great start to what is set to be another strong year for Sky,” CEO Stephen van Rooyen with Sky U.K. and Ireland, said in a statement. “Our customers love Netflix content and our partnership continues to go from strength to strength, we plan to launch new channels and genres, start building our new studio, Sky Studios Elstree, and we’ll have great new and returning Sky originals too.”

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