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Sky Vision Sees Sales Success With In-House Productions

Sky vision is emerging as an important player following several key scripted deals to add to its bedrock of factual shows and a growing number of production assets. The sales house was set up in 2012 and was launched at that fall’s Mipcom TV market in Cannes.

The motivation for the satcaster to have an inhouse distribution business was Sky’s growing portfolio of original commissions, especially those across drama.

With digital platforms proliferating, Sky reasoned it was no longer enough to be only in the pay TV business, as lucrative as it is — it needed to have a foot in the content biz as well.

In a perfect world the new entity would sell all of Sky’s original shows internationally. There would also be third-party acquisitions and content produced by the shingles Sky was investing in on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Setting up the infrastructure for a distribution company is a complex business, so Sky decided to acquire factual specialist Parthenon Entertainment and rebrand it as Sky Vision,” says managing director Jane Millichip, who has led Sky Vision since November 2013.

Today, Sky Vision’s catalog has around 5,000 hours of content. Most of this is nonscripted, but drama is increasingly important to the outfit.

This was demonstrated by the success of Arctic thriller “Fortitude,” a high-profile show for Sky Atlantic in Europe. The thriller was shown in the U.S by cable net Pivot, a co-producer on “Fortitude.”

The serial is Sky Vision’s most lucrative title yet having sold to 170 territories.

“Sky Vision is now definitely a production and distribution business of scale,” Millichip says. “We have a portfolio of five production businesses in the U.K. and U.S. In the four years since our inception we have increased revenues tenfold.”

All successful TV distributors need a content pipeline to keep broadcasters and other platforms coming back for more.

“One of the first things I did was to secure a supply of high-quality Sky and third-party content,” Millichip says.

Sky Vision sells around 50% of Sky’s original commissions. As well as “Fortitude,” other big sellers are “The Last Panthers,” co-distributed with France’s Studiocanal, and “Fungus the Bogeyman,” above.

Third-party factual content like documentary series “Walking the Nile” and “Walking the Himalayas” are also in demand. So too is clip show “What Went Down,” from Bellum Entertainment.

While Sky shows are central to Sky Vision’s biz, Millichip denies there is a tacit understanding that producers commissioned by Sky must license their rights to Sky Vision. “Sky commissioning teams and channels will not refuse to commission a show if we cannot retain the rights,” she insists. “In most cases we do put our hand up and say we’d like to distribute Sky commissions. If we don’t feel we’re the right business for the job, we will say so. The last thing we want is to fight for the rights and then fail.”

Sky owns 70% of U.K shingle Love Prods. whose “The Great British Bake Off” is one of Blighty’s biggest shows. The format has been sold to many broadcasters around the world including the U.S.

Unfortunately for Sky, “Bake Off” is distributed by rival sales house BBC Worldwide. “We do, of course, enjoy our share of net revenues from the sale of ‘Bake Off’ as we own a majority share of Love,” Millichip says.

At this year’s Mip Sky Vision will launch “Fortitude 2” and other dramas including family adventure series “Hooten and the Lady.” Another new show is “Dogs Might Fly,” an Oxford Scientific Films series in which dogs are apparently taught to fly aircraft.

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