Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sky grab 'Glee' from E4

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

As rumoured, it's now official: Sky have outbid E4 for the UK rights to Fox's Glee. Sky1 is the likely new home of the high school "dramedy" for its third season and beyond. This continues a trend for Sky, as the broadcaster often snaps up the rights to another channel's hit (BBC2's 24, Channel 4's Lost, BBC4's Mad Men) once they've done the hard work selling it to the British public.

Still, it makes sense given Sky's connection to Fox (both owned by Ruper Murdoch), making you wonder why Sky never premiered Glee to begin with. I could be cynical and suggest Fox knew a Sky debut isn't a big enough platform to turn the show into a pop-culture phenomenon in the UK, which it ultimately relies on to sell iTunes tracks and DVDs. No, they needed the buzz of youth-magnet E4 (Glee's their #1 show, often attracting a consolidated 2m viewers), while also getting a quick repeat on nationwide Channel 4. And now it's a high-profile mega-hit, Sky can step in and inherit all that buzz. Well, that's my theory.

Sky reportedly outbid Channel 4 by offering to pay £500,000 per episode--allegedly twice what Channel 4 have been paying. I hope it's worth it, as it feels like the Glee backlash has already begun. I haven't stopped watching the show yet, but I'm definitely less enamoured and have obviously stopped reviewing it. I know other people are also less keen now; watching at a relaxed pace just to fill time, and no longer eager to catch every new episode when it airs. Is that the general feeling with Gleeks, or are most people still committed to the musical mischief of McKinley High?

A Channel 4 spokesman:

"By not renewing the Glee deal, we are freeing up huge amounts of budget to invest in homegrown programming, British talent and of course continuing to discover and showcase what the US has to offer. We are particularly thrilled to have recently acquired The Killing."
What do you make of this news? It wasn't unexpected, but does the change of channel actually mean anything to you? Are Glee's audience the type of people who are probably satellite/cable subscribers, meaning it's no big deal, or will students relying on Freeview now have to wait for DVD box-sets or download? On a business level, is Sky's tactic perfectly reasonable competition, or do you dislike it when they swoop in to pinch another channel's hit? Will you even go so far as to stop watching Glee on principle? Will the show become more of a niche thing in the UK now it's only available to a small section of cable/satellite viewers?