Comcast-backed Sky has launched an in-house production unit, Sky Studios, and will double the amount it sinks into original programming as part of an effort to become the leading production force in Europe. Its first project will be “The Third Day,” a drama co-production with HBO and starring Jude Law.
Sky Studios will create content for Sky channels, NBC Broadcast and cable, and Universal Pictures, as well as for other distribution outlets, the company said Wednesday. Sky is currently enjoying success with “Chernobyl” and “Riviera” and has a raft of other dramas in the pipeline.
“This is a transformational development for us,” said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch. “Sky Studios will drive our vision to be the leading force in European content development and production. Our ambition is to make Sky Studios famous for quality content and a place where Europe’s top creatives will want to do their best work.”
He added that “being part of Comcast enables us to increase our investment and to maximize the advantage and leverage of the Sky Group and our partners, NBCUniversal.”
The new Studios unit will produce and develop original content across all genres, with a focus on drama and comedy. Production is about to start on “The Third Day,” starring Jude Law, which will be on U.K. and U.S. screens in 2020.
Gary Davey, who is Sky U.K.’s managing director of content, will lead Sky Studios. “This exciting new venture is perfectly timed to meet the growing content demands of our customers,” he said. “We look forward to working with the whole creative community, from individual creators to the big independent producers to produce more of the original content our customers love.”
Sky, faced with increasing competition from U.S. streamers, had been steadily pouring more money into content before Comcast bought the pan-European paybox for $40 billion last year. A hefty chunk of its budget still goes toward soccer rights, but original drama has emerged as a key area for the company, which counts the U.K., Germany, and Italy as its key territories. It has also started investing in original movies.