Not satisfied having bought Virgin Media TV last month, media magnate Rupert Murdoch has signed an exclusive deal with HBO--bringing its complete range of American TV shows to the UK via Sky.
Every classic, current, and forthcoming HBO show will be made available to BSkyB for as long as the agreement stands (thought to be five years). This means that archived hit shows, such as The Sopranos and The Wire, could be given a second chance on one of the broadcaster's 30-odd channels, though current plans suggest they'll only be available via on-demand services.
Upcoming American shows Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones are also included in this deal, as is the new, highly-regarded drama Treme. Series such as True Blood and Hung, which are already airing on non-Sky channels, will only be aired on Sky after their existing contracts with other British broadcasters are over. This doesn't mean they won't be aired on those channels also, however. Channel 4 and FX have both confirmed they'll be retaining the rights to their HBO shows.
This deal also means that shows previously dropped from UK broadcast schedules could be given another lease of life: Entourage, which was recently dropped by ITV2, and Big Love, which once aired incompletely on Five, are also on the list of shows included in the agreement.
This acquisition is thought to form part of Sky's enhanced drama strategy, which will see the broadcaster rely less on sport and more on series-loving subscribers. Over the past year the broadcaster has commissioned an increasing number of high-budget UK shows, including Chris Ryan's Strike Back and crime thriller Mad Dogs.This morning Sky also announced the launch of a new British sitcom slate, which includes a host of new comedies starring Ruth Jones, Stephen Fry, Dawn French and Catherine Tate.
Sky's certainly upping its game, but is it enough to tempt all TV-lovers to pay up?