Comcast’s British pay-TV broadcaster Sky is plotting a major return to unscripted television, with plans to invest around £30M ($40M) a year in the genre and launch two brand new channels.
Sky will pounce on audience research showing increased demand for factual content by launching Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature in spring this year. They will add to a growing portfolio of genre channels, including Sky Crime and Sky Comedy.
Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature will be populated with hundreds of hours premium programming, including acquisitions and new commissions. It follows the broadcaster pulling back from the unscripted space in recent years.
Sky Documentaries will feature up to 30 original single documentaries a year, as well as 18 multi-part series. This will sit alongside acquisitions like Mark Wahlberg’s HBO show McMillions and Showtime’s The Kingmaker.
Sports documentaries, scandal, politics and biographies will high on its list of priorities, with its first original film focusing on Tiger Woods’ dramatic Masters victory last year. Tiger Woods: The Comeback is made by Sky Sports.
Sky Nature will initially feature acquisitions, including those under its Love Nature output deal and its existing David Attenborough collection, but by 2021 it plans to have Planet Earth and Blue Planet-level originals on air. Two projects are currently in development, it said.
Zai Bennett, managing director of content at Sky, said: “Premium documentaries and nature series are increasingly important to our customers, with them wanting to get to the shows they want as quickly as possible.
“These new channels will offer our customers an unrivaled destination for brand new, world-class documentaries and nature programming as well as an extensive on-demand library of the world’s best factual programs.”