Friday, 22 January 2016

Sky buy exclusive European rights to Showtime programming

Friday, 22 January 2016

Sky yesterday announced a long-term licensing agreement with CBS Corporation to become the exclusive home of Showtime programming in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. This new deal will affect all new and future TV series produced for Showtime, including their new TV series Billions and next year's highly anticipated revival of Twin Peaks.

Sky already broadcast many Showtime dramas in the UK on Sky Atlantic, such as Penny Dreadful, Ray Donovan and The Affair. This new deal will grant them on-demand access to old Showtime dramas like Dexter, Nurse Jackie, The Borgias, Californication, Weeds, Brotherhood, etc.

I'm not sure, but I presume this means defunct Showtime series will be removed from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime in the aforementioned European territories. Dexter's a very popular drama for Netflix around the world, but I just can't see it remaining there now Sky have inked this deal.

However, Showtime's Homeland is airing new episodes on Channel 4 every year, and my guess is it'll continue to until it wraps because it's not a "new and future" show. Ditto Masters of Sex (More4) and the BBC co-production Episodes. Sky will probably just get access to past seasons of those shows that have aired, which is what happens between Channel 4 and Netflix regarding Homeland right now.

Essentially, this is the same deal as we saw happen between HBO and Sky a few years ago. Sky got the exclusive on new and future HBO shows, together with streaming access to their large archive. Well, now Showtime's joined in the fun, too.

If you're a Sky subscriber who loves high-quality U.S drama, this is excellent news! If you're not... well, it's maddening if you're relying on free-to-air terrestrial channels and/or Netflix/Amazon. But that's business, I guess! Sky need ways to draw fresh subscribers their way, and having the majority of quality U.S cable drama under its umbrella is a big lure.

And if nothing else, it's yet more reason to consider getting NOW TV (Sky's video-on-demand service competing with Netflix/Amazon in the UK). You can get Sky's entertainment and movie channels through NOW TV, without subscribing to their satellite service, and it's by far the cheapest way to catch new episodes of Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, The Leftovers, Ray Donovan, Veep, True Detective, The Affair, Girls, etc.

What do you think? A hearty 'bravo!' or a resounding 'boo'? Should Sky be keeping their HBO/Showtime content exclusive to their subscribers? There was a time when their HBO/Showtime acquisitions would've broadcast on Sky1 (a channel accessible to non-Sky subscribers of Virgin Media or BT), but those days are long gone now. Sky1 seems to be the home of select mainstream U.S shows like The Simpsons, Arrow, The Flash, Zoo, etc, and the 'prestige' cable dramas get locked away somewhere exclusive.

Content is king, after all.

Will you be getting Sky or NOW TV based on this turn of events?