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Sky’s Up Subsequent exhibits it is going all-in on unique content material

OPINION: Sky revealed its 2022 content material line-up at its Up Subsequent occasion and it had me questioning about the place the UK broadcaster sees itself on this ever-changing media panorama.

The occasion, as you’d anticipate, was reasonably glitzy to the purpose the place I puzzled whether or not it was a mistake to ask me, a hoodie/fight trouser combo carrying journo, to the occasion.

There was a parade of stars on stage chatting in regards to the exhibits coming to Sky (or already out there), and whereas that may veer into the self-congratulatory, what struck a chord weren’t the inventive people in view however what’s happening behind the scenes.

Sky Up Next event

It was introduced there will likely be 200 Sky Unique exhibits launching this 12 months, 60% greater than in 2021, whereas Sky has additionally arrange store at Elstree studios, ramping up its recruitment drive with the view of going surfing later in 2022. Sky says the 13 studios beneath Elstree’s roof will allow £3bn value of manufacturing funding over the following 5 years. These figures are necessary as they spotlight the impression of streaming on manufacturing and starvation for extra content material.

Unique programming for TV has seemingly by no means been extra necessary, regardless of being round since, nicely, the beginning of TV. The cash media conglomerates are throwing into creating new programming – should you can actually name all of it new contemplating the quantity of re-dos, remakes and re-imaginings – increase eyebrows in Roger Moore-esque style.

Netflix is estimated to spend $17bn (or perhaps much less after its latest travails) this 12 months. Disney anticipated to spend $33bn throughout its portfolio, whereas Warner Discovery will half with $20bn. They’re not messing about and the figures quoted present there’s loads of danger. Disney hasn’t really made a revenue on Disney+ but…

And the cash these studios are pumping in aren’t going to companies they don’t personal, which goes to have an effect on Sky. I’d wager US content material from Warner/HBO is on barely shaky floor with that deal ending in 2025. After its latest culling of exhibits on The CW Community, I’d anticipate Warner Discovery to place its eggs into one HBO-shaped basket and export the Max service to the UK.

With BT Sport in the method on being eaten up by Discovery, changing into an enormous rival to Sky Sports activities within the course of, Liberty Media will probably have one other take a look at F1 when its deal expires in 2024. Sky might be feeling the warmth.

It’s the results of licensed content material – or the unique ‘unique’ content material – changing into a strategic play to attract viewers. Netflix has suffered essentially the most, having had Star Trek: Discovery pulled from its grasp to open the trail for Paramount+‘s worldwide launch, whereas within the US it has seen the likes of Mates, The Huge Bang Principle and The Workplace tractor-beamed again to the mothership(s). Sky wouldn’t wish to be on this place.

And so Sky must make hay whereas the solar shines with its present offers, whereas additionally placing its items in place for the long run. It isn’t a broadcaster within the conventional sense anymore, with many fingers in lots of pies from conception of content material to the supply of it. Whereas latest strikes has seen them develop into an aggregator of content material on the Sky Q and Glass platforms, I don’t suppose they will rely – at the very least sooner or later – on others to funnel hits on to them like Recreation of Thrones and Succession. They should make their very own water cooler hits, like Gangs of London, and with US media large Comcast behind them, they’ve the sources to take action.

However all this blabbering leads me again to some extent I’ve made in earlier columns. That Sky’s weapon within the streaming wars might be the Stream puck, essentially the most attention-grabbing side of Sky Glass. Creating content material is one factor, how folks get pleasure from it’s one other. With the rise in programming and the funding Sky is making; if the Stream puck is priced proper, it may open Sky’s rising library to a wider viewers.

It at all times aggravated me once I was rising up that Sky would – in my eyes – ‘steal’ the likes of 24, Misplaced and Mad Males after just a few seasons of being on terrestrial TV, disappearing behind a paywall. However now, think about you had an reasonably priced method into Sky’s service and will watch it on any display screen? That may see Sky make its method by means of these more and more uneven waters of the streaming market.

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