Sky will remain the exclusive home of HBO programmes in the UK and Europe, thanks a new deal signed this week.
Sky Atlantic has long been the home of Home Box Office for British viewers, with shows such as The Affair and Game of Thrones available to watch for British audience shortly after their US premieres. Now, the broadcaster has extended its first-run agreement to Germany, Austria and Italy until 2020.
But the agreement – the first pan-European content deal covering all Sky territories that Sky has negotiated – is not just about linear broadcast, but increasingly about the catalogue of shows available to stream on-demand.
New HBO shows will be shown first on Sky Atlantic and where possible, aired simultaneously with the US, but Sky customers can also enjoy access to HBO’s library of box sets, with more entire shows available on the Sky platforms in all markets for longer periods.
For non-Sky customers in the UK, that means a boost to NOW TV’s streaming line-up. The subscription VOD service offers contract-free access to Sky’s content, with Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky 1 and Sky Arts (plus FOX and others) all available to stream live and on-demand for £6.99. HBO’s content is a major part of that OTT SVOD package: Seasons 1 to 4 of Game of Thrones, for example are currently available for marathoning, while customers will have extra time to watch shows not on rivals Netflix and Amazon, such as Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Veep, The Newsroom and Girls. Indeed, the site has proven so popular that Sky has launched NOW TV in Germany too.
For Sky, HBO is the gift that keeps on giving: next year, Martin Scorsese will bring his TV series Vinyl to the TV table, set in the music business in 1970s New York, alongside Westworld, a science fiction thriller inspired by the 1973 Michael Crichton film, from Executive Producers Jonathan Nolan and J.J Abrams and staring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden and Thandie Newton.
As well as shows produced by HBO, 2016 will see the premiere of the first Sky/HBO co-production: The Young Pope, starring Jude Law and Diane Keaton and directed by Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino.