Sky, HBO Ink $250-Million Co-Production Deal for High-End Drama

Sky and HBO are set to extend their partnership with a new multi-year, $250-million co-financing deal to develop and produce high-end drama. The agreement will see the two pay-TV giants launch HBO Sky Studios co-commissioning high-end dramas that can be exploited globally in both HBO and Sky’s home markets and via international distribution elsewhere.

“This is the next step in the development of our relationship with HBO,” said Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive at Sky, announcing the deal Thursday morning as Sky released its nine-month results to the end of March.

Darroch said the aim of the new deal was to “create a new global drama series powerhouse.” He expects the partnership to produce two major drama series per year, with the first commissions in 2018. Initial projects are already in development, with the level of investment by each company to be decided on a project-to-project basis, depending on such factors as which of the partners will handle distribution rights.

Sky Atlantic is the home of HBO across Sky’s European market, which includes the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. The company signed its first pan-European content deal, covering all Sky territories, in November 2015 to take exclusive first-run broadcast rights to HBO programming, including hit shows like “Westworld” (pictured) and “Game of Thrones,” through 2020.

“Sky has been a great partner for us and this deal allows even deeper collaboration between our two great companies, which have a long tradition in creating superior content for our customers,” said Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO. “Together we represent the best in television, and, combined, we will raise the bar even higher in pay-TV programming.”

Darroch said the linkup with HBO continued Sky’s history of co-production deals with “the very best producers around the world.” The company already has deals with a number of major broadcasters, including Canal+ and NBC.

Executives from both Sky and HBO will be responsible for greenlighting projects, inviting pitches from both the U.S. and Europe, which Darroch said would provide opportunities for independent production companies.

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