TV channels are here to stay, according to Gary Davey, Sky’s Managing Director of Content.
Speaking at an RTS Early Evening Event Davey said that despite the proliferation of ways of watching content linear channels would continue to survive.
“Channels will always be around. | cannot see a future where they don’t exist,” said Davey, a pay TV veteran who was part of the team that helped establish the pioneering satellite broadcaster in the early 1990s.
“There is a revolution going on but it’s happening a lot slower than people think…
“Our customers still tune in for that big live event… If we’re really smart we can use social media to make an episode premier feel like a Champions League semi-final, by being live and it’s essential that you are there as part of that live conversation.
“We just need to manage linear TV and make it all feel like an event. Our industry will adapt. If we stand still we’ll get rolled over.
“People have been predicting TV’s demise on an annual basis for 40 years. Somehow we’ve bounced back and we work our way through it.”
Davey revealed that the recent exclusive content deal with US cable channel, Showtime, for Sky Atlantic was only possible following the merger of Sky with Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
Sky already has an exclusive contact for showing HBO shows in the UK and also co-produces with HBO.
“I had always imagined a world where we had HBO and Showtime,” said Davey.
“They are the best two storytellers for television in the world. To be able to develop Sky originals where we can proudly sit alongside those two propositions to me is the fulfilment of a dream.
“The three entities working side by side is an enormously powerful thing.
“It would not have been possible without the scale of Europe, that’s the key point.
“Sky UK would not have pulled off that deal on its own. The fact that we were able to develop a pan-European proposition, to be the custodians of their brand…
“Those deals take a long time to come together…Two years for the Showtime deal.”
Davey revealed that Sky is developing shows with Showtime, whose hits include The Affair, Nurse Jackie, and Dexter.
The CBS-owned channel commissioned the reboot of Twin Peaks and the keenly anticipated Billions starring Damian Lewis.
Additionally the Showtime contract gives Sky more firepower in its rivalry with BT, who last year launched an exclusive UK channel from another US cable operator AMC, famous for The Walking Dead.
Asked if Davey was worried about competition from Netflix and Amazon Prime he reminded the RTS audience that Sky is a lot more experienced than the online operators.
“We kicked this journey off way before either Netflix or Amazon Prime became an issue.
“This journey took a lot of development and a lot of thinking through...
“I think we would have been on this journey with or without Netflix and Amazon.
“The interesting thing about Netflix and Amazon is that nobody knows how successful any of those shows are.
“There is no data to prove whether their shows work or not.
“The truth is Netflix has been very successful in the UK but at a time when we’ve grown as fast as we’ve ever grown and our churn rate is the lowest level it’s been in ten years.
“The existence of Netflix does not seem to have damaged our customer base at all. It is a supplementary service.”
Gary Davey was In Conversation with Pat Younge, managing director of Sugar Films, at the Hospital Club in London’s Covent Garden, February 4th. The producer was Martin Stott, Channel 5’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs. A full report of the event will be published in the February edition of Television.