LONDON: Sky today announced plans to launch Sky Atlantic HD , a new entertainment channel, in early 2011. Sky Atlantic will provide an exclusive home to some of the most hotly anticipated shows in television to customers throughout the UK and Ireland.

Following Sky and HBO’s multi-year output deal announced in July, Sky Atlantic HD will air all of HBO’s new series exclusively in the UK and Ireland including the already critically acclaimed Boardwalk Empire . The Prohibition-era drama from acclaimed director and Oscar® winner Martin Scorsese and The Sopranos‘ Emmy® Award winning writer Terence Winter features an all-star cast including Steve Buscemi , Michael Pitt and Kelly Macdonald. Boardwalk Empire made its US debut on HBO on September 19, 2010 and a UK and Ireland premiere is scheduled for February 2011. The series has already been green lit for a second season after scoring HBO’s best premiere audience for over six years.

Other upcoming HBO productions to be broadcast by Sky Atlantic HD include the fantasy drama Game of Thrones , based on the series of books A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, Luck , executive produced by David Milch and Michael Mann and starring two time Oscar® winner Dustin Hoffman , Mildred Pierce starring Oscar® winner Kate Winslet and the new series from David Simon ( The Wire ), the New Orleans set Treme , which chronicles the rebuilding of the city following the historic devastation at the hands of Hurricane Katrina . In addition, future seasons of existing HBO shows – such as Entourage and Big Love – will be broadcast exclusively on Sky Atlantic in the UK and Ireland. Furthermore, some of the most critically lauded series of recent times including The Sopranos , The Wire , Six Feet Under and Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ The Pacific will also air on the channel. The content will also be offered to Sky customers via Sky’s on-demand platforms, including the soon-to-launch Sky Anytime+ service.

In a separate deal announced today with Lionsgate Television, Sky Atlantic HD will also be the exclusive UK home to brand new Mad Men from 2011. The BAFTA® award-winning Mad Men made history as the only cable series to win back-to-back best drama Emmy® Awards and the only series to win the Golden Globe® Award for Best Drama for three consecutive years. Mad Men burst onto the scene when it debuted on AMC in July 2007 and quickly became one of the most talked about series on television. Set in 1960s New York, Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising.

As part of Sky’s growing commitment to original production, Sky Atlantic HD will also offer a range of exclusive, new UK programming. Further details will be announced in due course. This follows Sky 1 HD’s continuing shift towards drama and comedy, which will include over the next two years the upcoming Thorne , Mad Dogs , Martina Cole’s The Runaway , Chris Ryan’s Strike Back and a reimagining of Sinbad , plus previously announced comedies Little Crackers , Stella , Mount Pleasant and This Is Jinsy .

Upcoming premieres on Sky Atlantic HD will include Boardwalk Empire (February), Mildred Pierce (March), Game of Thrones and Treme (both April).

Sophie Turner Laing, Sky’s Managing Director, Entertainment, News & Broadcast Operations said: “ Sky Atlantic HD will be an extraordinary TV channel. It will have compulsive television that pushes creative boundaries and tells great stories.

“The addition of Sky Atlantic completes a fantastic portfolio of entertainment channels including Sky 1 HD, Sky Arts, Living and Sky Movies. Together, our channels will bring customers high-quality programming that is worth paying for.”

Stuart Murphy will extend his responsibilities and become Director of Programmes Sky1 HD, Sky 1, 2 and 3 and Sky Atlantic HD. Turner Laing added: “ In just over 12 months Stuart has made a tremendous impact at Sky, creating a really strong brand identity for Sky 1 and producing some truly original, talked about television. His passion, commitment and expertise will be integral to Sky Atlantic and Sky’s entertainment portfolio .”