Granada Group, one of the biggest companies in the U.K.’s ITV network, is planning to launch eight satellite channels next year in partnership with British Sky Broadcasting.
The package represents the most muscular new entry into the U.K. satellite programming market since BSkyB got off the ground five years ago. Granada has a 40-year history of producing the highest rated and the most critically acclaimed shows on the ITV network.
Seven of the channels will consist largely of specially produced programming targeted at niche audiences. They include Talk TV, Men & Motoring, Health & Beauty, Food & Wine, Home & Garden, Good Life and a home shopping channel.
Granada TV chief exec Charles Allen also said the U.K. service would be a springboard for international expansion. He predicted that once the channels are up and running, Granada will look to export them to other English-speaking territories. He said there already is “real interest” from potential U.S. partners, notably in Granada Gold Plus.
That channel is likely to attract the most attention on its launch in the U.K. But of more long-term significance is Granada’s decision to commit so heavily to original production on the other seven.
The services will be run by the new joint venture company Granada Sky Broadcasting, which will be 60% owned by Granada and 40% by BSkyB, subject to the upcoming relaxation of U.K. cross-media ownership law.