Last year, in a bid to increase its entertainment portfolio, BSkyB launched Sky Atlantic after buying the rights to the entire catalogue of the American premium cable network, HBO. Furthermore, Sky brought in deals with other US broadcasters such as CBS and Showtime to bring their content to Atlantic.
Sky Atlantic was, and still is, available exclusively for Sky TV customers. BSkyB’s rival, Virgin Media, were unable to come to an agreement with Sky over pricing. At the time of launch, Sky touted the arrival of brand new shows Game of Thrones, The Borgias and Boardwalk Empire.
These high-budget US dramas would be available only on Sky Atlantic, alongside popular existing HBO show Mad Men (previously on the BBC).
Sky soon realised the opportunity they had with Sky Atlantic. While Sky’s flagship channel, Sky1, is available on Virgin Media’s cable platform, Atlantic was exclusive to Sky customers. This meant that Virgin Media customers would be forced to subscribe to Sky’s TV packages if they wanted to receive the channel.
BSkyB started investing in more programming, both original and imported from the States. Ann Widdecombe’s quiz show Cleverdicks was shown on Sky Atlantic, alongside more American shows such as Blue Bloods, Treme and Luck.
Sky also started transferring many of its popular shows over from Sky1 (available on Virgin) to Sky-only Atlantic. Repeats of much-loved shows House, ER and 24 are now commonplace on Atlantic, while Sky1 is left to air episodes of cringeworthy Dog The Bounty Hunter, and endless episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama.
The recent additions of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels, and Armando Iannucci’s Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the role of an incompetent Vice President of the United States, have made Sky Atlantic that more exciting.
Top that off with a brand new series from ex-BBC comedy genius Alan Partridge, with his Mid Morning Matters show, and you have the perfect recipe for an entertainment channel.
Sky Atlantic is possibly the best channel on TV right now, and it’s exclusive to Sky customers. This is possibly Sky’s most powerful weapon in its arsenal at the moment, as it tries to persuade green-eyed Virgin customers over to the HD wonders of Sky.