The satellite TV company has signed a content deal with HBO, the US channel that revolutionised the television market by launching a pay-TV service that screens big-budget dramas. The Sky deal, expected to be announced this morning, will give Sky access to HBO's archive and all forthcoming shows over the lifetime of the agreement. It is believed to be worth around £150m over five years.It's a biggie, and means that the likes of True Blood and Treme will be Sky exclusives in years to come. Living may get Sex in the City repeats, Bravo The Sopranos and The Wire, whilst new series such as Boardwalk Empire are likely to debut on Sky Movies Premier (like The Pacific did last Easter).
It's an interesting deal, not just because it steals content from other commercial broadcasters (once their current deals run out) but because it signals an attempt by Sky to secure some of the highest quality programming around, something it has long been criticised for not attempting. These series aren't huge audience pullers and HBO's track record of late has been somewhat mixed - True Blood aside, there's been nothing new that has really caught light with US audiences - so it's a prestige acquisition more likely to booster perception rather than audiences.