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HBO, Sky launch $250m drama scheme

Premium US cablenet HBO and European pay TV operator Sky have linked up to offer a US$250m coproduction scheme to develop high-end drama.

Richard Plepler

The arrangement will focus on shows that feature “engaging stories with international points of view and casting,” with the first series expected to air in 2018.

Executives from both companies will be responsible for greenlighting the projects, with the partnership open to pitches from across the creative community in both the US and Europe.

Sky and HBO said the partnership would provide “an unrivalled opportunity for production companies to have their content broadcast by two of the leading brands in worldwide television.”

The link-up aims to greenlight at least two dramas per year within two years and builds on the company’s existing relationship, which gives the European media giant’s Sky Atlantic network exclusive first-run rights to HBO shows.

The first projects of the partnership have been initiated, with announcements expected in the coming weeks.

Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO, said the deal “allows even deeper collaboration between our two great companies, which have a long tradition in creating superior content for our customers.”

Jeremy Darroch

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch added: “HBO and Sky have for many years shared a common creative culture and a common vision for the development of high-quality drama.

“This new venture deepens that relationship, maintains our leadership position in world-class content, provides great opportunities for indies and gives our customers even more opportunity to enjoy brilliant storytelling.”

Sky extended its output deal with HBO in 2015 to allow its operations in Germany, Austria and Italy to offer programming in the same way as in the UK and Ireland.

The arrangement provides access to HBO’s library including Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Veep, The Newsroom and Girls, as well as new seasons of shows such as True Detective.

Numerous scripted funding schemes have been launched over the past few months, with BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) linking with European film and TV outfit Anton just last week on a £150m (US$190m) drama investment partnership.

BBCWW is also working with Danny Cohen’s Access Entertainment and UK prodco Lookout Point to launch commissioning entity Benchmark Television, while other schemes include Sir Howard Stringer’s SVoD-focused Atrium TV and London-based financier Stone Story Media.

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