Speaking at an SES Satellite Monitor conference in London, he added that at this stage Sky is the only broadcaster in the UK capable of facing up to “insurgents”, unlike ITV, itself a likely takeover target thanks to the success of ITV Studios; Channel 4; and even the BBC.
Neil argued that we are currently living in a TV age of “great quality and quantity”. Netflix will shortly pass 100 million subscribers, split 50/50 between the US and ROW, and commissioned 1,000 hours of original content last year.
Meanwhile, Amazon Prime is now a standalone service with 76 million subscribers worldwide and Google will launch its virtual cable service in the US this spring, offering 40 channels for $40 a month, plus unlimited storage in a cloud based DVR.
In his view, we are now living in an “arms race for content”, with The Crown, for instance, costing £100 million, or £5 million per episode, and such high numbers becoming the norm.
The quality of such productions poses challenges for traditional broadcasters and their business models.