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Comcast’s Sky Rejigs Channels, Retires Sky One Flagship After 30 Years

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 7/28/2021 Alex Ritman

Pan-European TV giant Sky is continuing its revamp under owner Comcast.

The latest change, unveiled Wednesday and due to come into force from Sept. 1, is a major rebrand of its portfolio of channels, including the retiring of its flagship Sky One channel, first launched in 1989 and famously the home for U.S. imports such as The Simpsons, 24 and Stargate. In its place will be the linear-only Sky Showcase, which will sit in the same slot and feature a selection of top shows from across Sky’s various different channels, including the likes of Sky Crime, Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature.

Sky is also launching Sky Max, a new linear and on demand channel that it claims will be the “home for Sky’s blockbuster entertainment,” and will launch with a reboot of Brit music gameshow Never Mind the Buzzcocks, plus The Russell Howard Hour and DC Superheroes.

Finally, Sky Comedy has been tweaked to include both the broadcasters own comedy shows, which were previously on Sky One, and its U.S. acquisitions, such as The Office and PEN15.

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Elsewhere, Sky Atlantic — the home for high-concept Sky-produced dramas such as Gangs of London and Chernobyl, and scripted shows from HBO and Showtime — will remain untouched. But for how long HBO programming will sit on the channel remains to be seen, with WarnerMedia hoping to — eventually — rollout HBO Max in U.K. once its long-standing output deal with Sky comes to an end.

“In this golden age of television, the sheer volume of incredible programming can be overwhelming,” said Zai Bennett, MD of content for Sky U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. “Over the last 12 months we’ve been making it easier for people to find what they want to watch. From September those looking for the very best of Sky will find it at the top of their programme guide on Sky Showcase, while Sky Max will become the new home of blockbuster entertainment joining the host of genre-led channels launched in the past year.”

Earlier this year, Sky underlined its original drama drive, booking shows from writers Paul Abbott (Shameless, No Offence), David Farr (The Night Manager) and Joe Barton (Giri/Haji, The Batman), alongside Michal Winterbottom’s limited series This Sceptred Isle charting the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.K. Bennett told The Hollywood Reporter that it was on track to reach a spend of £1 billion ($1.37 billion) on original content by 2024.

It also unveiled a major push into films, acquiring a number of titles — such as Promising Young Woman — that would have been destined for a significant theatrical release in cinemas prior to the pandemic that it acquired exclusively for its platform.


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