British pay-TV heavyweight Sky and its free-to-air counterpart Channel 4 have struck a first-of-its-kind content-sharing deal, with an agreement that covers premium sports and drama. Pubcaster Channel 4 will show Sky’s Tim Roth revenge drama “Tin Star” and Formula 1 racing coverage. In return, Sky will show series from Channel 4’s international drama service Walter Presents, as well as the new season of the free-TV broadcaster’s police drama “No Offence.”
The unusual hookup comes as new kinds of partnership and pacts are being forged in response to the reshaping of the TV landscape by U.S. streamers. Pay-TV firms in Britain have already started bundling Netflix and Amazon, and free-TV broadcasters have been co-producing with the FAANG companies. But the Sky-Channel 4 deal is the first time a pay-TV firm and pubcaster have shared high-end drama and premium sports in this way.
The two previously held Formula 1 rights together, but Sky secured exclusive rights starting next year. The new deal means that highlights and the home race from the championship will still be seen on free TV. Channel 4 will also show the first season of Sky’s original drama “Tin Star” shortly ahead of the sophomore season going out on the Sky Atlantic channel. Drama from Channel 4 will be packaged as box sets for Sky’s Now TV and Sky Go streaming services. “No Offence,” which was created by Paul Abbott (“Shameless”) will launch first, and be available from Thursday.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to establish such an exciting and innovative partnership with Sky which will ensure that the British Grand Prix and highlights of the 2019 Formula 1 Championship remain available on free-to-air television for U.K. viewers,” Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4, said.
“Today’s partnership is the start of a new era of collaboration between Sky, Channel 4 and, we hope, other British broadcasters,” Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky U.K. and Ireland, said, adding: “Not only will this innovative partnership benefit viewers, watching via Sky or free-to-air, but it will further strengthen the ecosystem of U.K. broadcasters and British-originated content.”