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?