April 18, 2016

HBO struggles weaken Sky Atlantic

Sky Atlantic is, according to some, the great content differentiator between the TV packages from Sky and Virgin Media. Virgin customers have never had the channel and those hungry for HBO and Showcase content have to either invest in Sky’s 720p NowTV Entertainment package (and, in doing so, may wonder why they fork out so much for Virgin TV each month) or dip into the murky depths of dodgy downloads. With NowTV the clamour for Atlantic on VM has died down; I have it but jump in and out of the service depending on what’s showing on Atlantic. This month I’m in for Game of Thrones, having just watched Vinyl. But the only other show scheduled for this year I’m interested in is the final season of The Leftovers. And after that? HBO, and therefore Sky Atlantic, is looking pretty bare.
I’m not the only one thinking this. Here’s a report from The Guardian that makes a similar observation, and industry watcher Hollywood Reporter has raised the alarm too: Game of Thrones apart, HBO is on the ropes. The new content kings in town are Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, whilst US cable network AMC has a more impressive track record of late (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead series and the forthcoming Preacher) and that’s now tied to BT in the UK (some Sky customers get just the SD version and no OnDemand).
I don’t doubt that Sky will flash more cash and buy up more content if HBO continues to fail to deliver popular series, but it’s not the channel it was and, Game of Thrones apart, it’s looking less of a gaping hole on my TiVo’s EPG.
What does everyone else think?


Simon W said...

Looks like they plugged part of the 'hole' already by signing a deal with Sony Pictures for exclusive movie content:


I REALLY hope that VM is able to deliver on its "huge plans" for exclusive content this year, and that the rumoured new Tivo box happens... Cutting the cord or going back to Sky looks like a more attractive proposition with every passing week...

Tom Chiverton said...

Do you remember when over-the-top content services promised to end exclusive deals and just let you buy a series of anything from anywhere ? How hard can it be ?

Jon said...

We'll probably get the channel now! (After GoT!)

Jon said...

BTW @Simon W, I hope Virgin do NOT compete with random exclusive content. IMO all content should be available either to all platforms or over the Internet without a long term contract. Platforms competing to get exclusives just perpetuates this behaviour which is only to the detriment of the customer.