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.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix has drops the first trailer for “The Politician,” and “Killing Eve” adds two to its cast for season 3.  CASTING Harriet Walter and Danny Sapani, both alums of “The Crown,” are set to join the cast of “Killing Eve” for its third season. British writer Suzanne Heathcote, whose past credits include [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • Disneyland

    Disney Shares Slip Amid Reported Whistleblower Allegations of Inflated Revenue

    Sandra Kuba, a former senior financial analyst for Disney’s revenue operations unit, says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that the entertainment conglomerate repeatedly and systematically overstated its revenue for years, according to a MarketWatch report, by as much as $6 billion in a single [...]

  • Bob Bakish Joe Ianniello

    ViacomCBS Sets Board Members; Bob Bakish, Joe Ianniello New Deals Disclosed

    ViacomCBS has unveiled the 13 members of its board of directors and details of new employment contracts for president-CEO Bob Bakish and CBS chairman-CEO Joe Ianniello. The disclosure came Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, six days after Viacom and CBS at long last set an all-stock merger agreement valued at [...]

  • Carrie Underwood, left, and Reba McEntire

    CMAs Make Hosting Change: Brad Paisley Exits, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire Are In

    The CMA Awards have had the most consistent hosting situation of any music awards show in television, but 11 years after installing Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood as the reliable faces of the telecast, even ABC and the Country Music Association have decided it’s time for a switch. Come Nov. 13, Underwood will return for [...]

  • Ava Max iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Portraits,

    Megan Thee Stallion, CNCO, Ava Max to Perform at VMAs Pre-show

    CNCO, Megan Thee Stallion and “Sweet but Psycho” singer Ava Max (pictured) have been added to the performer lineup at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The three will take the stage during the VMAs’ red carpet pre-show, hosted by Terrence J and Nessa. Zara Larsson will join the two hosts as a special correspondent. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content