Last Thursday was an exciting night for everyone at Sky. You, Me and the Apocalypse, a Sky original drama production, made its debut on US prime-time TV and it did really well. At 8pm across the United States, more than six million viewers tuned into NBC to watch Rob Lowe, Mathew Baynton, Jenna Fischer, Pauline Quirke and a whole host of other stars come to terms with the end of the world. It was helped by some great reviews, with the LA Times telling its readers it is “a show you really need to see” and the New York Times describing it as “making the end of the world an unpredictably enjoyable ride, as it ought to be”.
When You, Me and the Apocalypse aired on Sky 1 last year, it was the channel’s biggest original drama launch in recent years although Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, which started two weeks ago has now eclipsed it. The US market is incredibly competitive in terms of new programmes, so it is a real endorsement of the quality of our original productions that a huge network like NBC is airing it in such a premium slot. Two of Sky’s drama series were on prime-time US commercial TV in 2015 and we have at least another five lined up to debut in the next 18 months, including The Last Panthers and the second season of our Arctic thriller Fortitude.
Across Europe, we are investing more in our own original productions with drama one of our main areas of focus. The fact that US networks like NBC, HBO, Showtime and others want to put our shows out in prime-time slots demonstrates that as well as making shows that our customers love, we are making series with global appeal. For example, the first series of Fortitude sold to 120 territories around the world and Gomorrah was sold in over 110 countries.
There is much more to come. Our portfolio of original series is beginning to reach scale with over 100 dramas in development or production. In 2016, our customers across Europe will be able to enjoy more hours of exclusive Sky original shows than ever before, with nine returning series, including Fortitude, The Tunnel: Sabotage and Gomorrah, joined by big new dramas such as The Young Pope, starring Jude Law and Diane Keaton. The Young Pope has already been pre-sold to over 80 territories across the world.
This growing investment in original productions complements our acquisition of the best shows from the US and around the world. This includes series that we air as part of our long-term, exclusive deal with HBO and, most recently, our agreement with Showtime, the creators of The Affair and Ray Donovan. It means our customers are getting greater value from their subscriptions, with access to hundreds of hours of amazing television live, on demand or on the go.
Sky’s Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content