US advertising drama Mad Men and the recent exclusive acquisition of the HBO content slate will form the backbone of a new channel, Sky Atlantic HD, launching in early 2011.
Sky has secured the UK rights to Mad Men, purchased by the BBC, though often hidden in the schedules. It has been a bad couple of weeks for the corporation that has also lost its exclusivity to the Masters golf to Sky Sports and the IAAF World Athletics Championships to Channel 4.
The launch of Sky Atlantic follows the recent announcement that Sky would be closing both Bravo and Channel One (the former Virgin 1) at the end of the year.
The channel will be run by Stuart Murphy, who becomes director of programmes Sky 1 HD, Sky 1, 2 and 3 and Sky Atlantic HD. Under Murphy Sky 1 has continued to shift towards drama and comedy, with an increasing amount being sourced from the UK, though it is clear it will continue to run a significant amount of US drama itself.
Sky Atlantic will air all of HBO’s new series exclusively in the UK and Ireland including the already critically acclaimed Boardwalk Empire. The Prohibition-era drama from Oscar winning director Martin Scorsese and The Sopranos’ Emmy Award winning writer Terence Winter made its US debut on September 19 and its UK and Ireland debut is scheduled for February 2011.
Mad Men is produced by Lionsgate Television and debuted in the US on AMC in July 2007.
The channel will be available in the Sky ‘Variety Pack’ at a cost of £19 per month.