Sky is looking to become Europe’s “most important producer of original content” as it doubles its investment over the next five years and hopes that NBCUniversal’s move to take over its international content sales will help it reach “another level”.
Sky and NBCU held a cocktail event at London’s BAFTA last night to toast the merger of Sky Vision into NBCUniversal International Television Distribution and introduce British producers to Belinda Menendez and her team.
Sky Studios CEO Gary Davey said that Jane Millichip, who founded Sky Vision and becomes Chief Commercial Officer at Sky Studios, and her team hit their long-term revenue target two years ahead of schedule.
“The Sky Vision journey has been very important to everyone here at Sky. The Sky Vision team were able to develop and prove a monetization model that allowed us to initiate our investment model in original content,” he said. “We’re very proud of the work we’ve done to date but we’re equally proud to be associated with Belinda and her team. It will help us go to another level, not a better level, a different level and that’s part of the natural journey of our industry. We have very big ambitions. Bear with us, it will be messy, we will make mistakes along the way but we’re determined to become Europe’s most important producer of original content.”
Davey revealed that Sky is currently in various stages of production with 52 scripted series including 34 dramas and 18 comedies. “That’s only going to get bigger and better,” he said. “We only have one rule: no rules.”
Millichip, who was called a “class act” by Davey, praised the sales and acquisitions staff at Sky Vision. “It’s not an end, we see it as new beginnings,” she said. “We couldn’t be more excited about the future. Over the next five years, we’ll more than double our investment into original content, everything from straight commissions, co-productions and in-house production capacities. For the first time at Sky, we are really embracing the European endeavor. Until now, the Italian, German and UK arms of Sky have endeavored to work together as one unit but this is the first time that we’ve set up a genuinely international, European endeavor.”
She admitted that Sky Studios, which revealed its first project earlier this summer, Jude Law’s The Third Day with HBO, was “an unusual model”. “The operating model is very much like a U.S. studio but our creative sensibilities are thoroughly European,” she said.
NBCUniversal International Television Distribution will now take over sales for titles including A Discovery of Witches, Patrick Melrose, Riviera and Britannia as well as forthcoming titles such as Helen Mirren’s Catherine The Great, political drama Cobra, which stars Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle and The Crown’s Victoria Hamilton, as well as international shows such as Australian series Frayed.
President Menendez said that she felt “very honored and privileged” to have the opportunity to work with the British production community and hopes to “carry on the extraordinary work [Sky Vision] has done”.
“We’ve been working very closely with Jane [Millichip], Gary [Davey], Jason [Simms]. Barney [Shingleton] and Leona [Connell] to get clarity and understanding on the programming and the work being done today. Our goal was to have a seamless transition by October 1. We have a degree of confidence across both businesses that we are going to reach that date,” she added.