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Sky, HBO to co-commission drama

UK broadcaster BSkyB has expanded its current deal with US-based HBO in an agreement that will see the firms co-develop and produce new, original drama.

The partnership will see BSkyB’s network Sky Atlantic remain the first-run home to HBO shows until 2020, building on a five-year deal signed in 2010, but will also see the firms develop and produce “spectacular” new drama series.

The shows will be broadcast in the UK, Ireland and the US with the firms looking for projects that have the potential to run for multiple seasons. Both BSkyB and HBO will commission and jointly-fund the shows.

The deal means HBO programming including True Detective, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and Girls will remain on pay TV net Sky Atlantic in the UK and also be available via its mobile service, through its on-demand service Now TV.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s CEO, said the expanded partnership ”strengthened our commitment to bring customers the very best content from around the world,” adding that “original production is the natural next step for our partnership with HBO.”

Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, added: “The deal with Sky was trailblazing in that it served as a model for similar arrangements we entered into around the world, with Sky Atlantic held up as the gold standard.”

The new agreement with HBO complements Sky’s existing commitment to invest £600m (US$989m) a year in original British content across its channels by 2014.

The firm has already ordered more than 100 hours of original drama this year, including Fleming (Sky Atlantic) and The Smoke (Sky 1).

Meanwhile the firm has reported increased take-up of its HD TV services for the six months to the end of December, although rights and content costs cut operating profits by 8%.

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