Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch has announced ambitious plans to double the amount the broadcaster invests in British content creation to £600 million by 2014. In a speech to the Reform think tank, Darroch said this was a natural evolution of the Sky business, which had initially focussed on the then relatively underserved areas of sport, movies and 24-hour news. “The motivation is very simple and, again, it is driven by a purely commercial mindset. Home-grown content resonates strongly and we believe we can both bring more quality and value to existing customers, while also reaching out to more people who haven’t yet chosen pay-TV”
Following the success of programmes, including the BAFTA-nominated Mad Dogs (pictured), Darroch anticipated a four-fold increase in the hours of original British drama seen on the Sky network. Among the first projects to reach the screen will be a new series from the creator of State of Play and Shameless, Paul Abbott, and the first feature-length commission for Sky Movies, Neverland, starring Anna Friel, Rhys Ifans and Bob Hoskins.
Highlighting the potential of hybrid and standalone IP-based platforms to make a contribution to content investment, Darroch said a disproportionate regulatory burden would undermine their growth potential and, ultimately, their future role in the content value chain. “We need a more flexible approach to existing broadcast platforms and channels, including the opportunity for measured and sensible deregulation as consumer behaviour and expectations change”
Darroch said open linear platforms had been good for both the consumer and the industry and he was proud to count 60 channels for foreign and ethnic audiences in the UK on “Sky’s open platform”.