Sky high on co-productions

BSkyB looks to U.S., elsewhere for partners

News Corp.’s U.K. satcaster BSkyB is planning to co-produce content with pay TV operators in the U.S., Australia and elsewhere in Europe.

Move comes as payboxes in mature markets beef up their original programming to differentiate their offerings from those of free-to-air webs.

BSkyB recently announced that it is making the second season of action drama “Strike Back” in collaboration with HBO.

Co-productions with BSkyB’s sister companies, Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, are in the cards.

BSkyB managing director of entertainment and news Sophie Turner Laing said that negotiations with webs outside the News Corp. family are under way.

She identified Starz and DirecTV in the U.S. as potential production partners. A collaboration with DirecTV on 3D shows was also a possibility because both run fledgling 3D channels.

Another putative partner is Showtime in Australia.

“It makes sense for us to collaborate with other pay TV operators to bring wonderful, epic content to our screens and share the cost,” she said. “Other pay platforms, be they in the U.S., France or Scandinavia, all have the same requirements as us.

“Not every idea will work across territories outside the U.K., but there is subject matter for drama and comedy that can work internationally without it turning into the dreaded Euro-pudding.”

Turner Laing has spearheaded an increase in commissioning local shows, principally drama, in recent years. “I would hope that within six months we will collectively have identified a number of projects that work in a number of territories — drama, factual and 3D factual.”