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Book review: The Battle for Sky

Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen), DCI Bill Wong (Matt McCooey) and Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells) in Sky One's Agatha Raisin (Credit: Sky)

Is it just me, or does this account of the relentless march of Sky feel less like a window into the “future of entertainment” and more the TV equivalent of ancient history?

There are glorious deeds and all-conquering heroes. Step forward Jeremy Darroch, and the man who appointed him CEO of Sky, James Murdoch. Not forgetting the tragic fate of doomed and misguided rivals: hold your heads in shame, Setanta and a host of others.

BritBox: Traditional media's answer to US streaming giants

Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) in Victoria (Credit: ITV)

It seems only a few short years ago that the BBC and ITV were thought of as the titans of British media. But all of us in the UK’s traditional media solar system are getting smaller and smaller in the Apple, Amazon and Netflix universe.” Thus said Lord Hall, Director-General of the BBC, in March, as he unveiled the corporation’s plans for its new financial year.

“We need to find new ways to adapt to the changing needs of our audiences, and we need to be able to do it in real time to keep pace with our global competitors,” he continued.

Rick and Morty heads to Channel 4

Rick and Morty (Credit: Adult Swim/Fox)

Kicking off in February, the deal has landed the public broadcaster an array of shows, including an exclusive premiere of the fourth season of the award-winning sci-fi cartoon Rick and Morty on Channel 4.

The premiere will mark the show’s first ever broadcast on free-to-air television in the UK.

Rick and Morty is one of the most anarchic, ingenious and original shows around and the breakthrough animated hit of recent years,” commented Ian Katz, Channel 4 Director of Programmes.

A global shift to home-grown

Netflix commissions from Germany, India and Spain

The old saying “Think global, act local” is the new mantra for the Net­flix-led, global tech platforms as they push for ever greater numbers of subscribers. In recent months, Net­flix, Apple and Amazon have all started to open offices, staffed largely by locally grown TV commissioners, in the UK and other non-US markets. Simultaneously, the tech platforms are ramping up local marketing efforts.

Amazon has also jumped into local sports markets, purchasing major live sports rights for the UK, including a Premier League football package and US Open tennis rights.

Is British TV under threat? BBC plans Netflix-style service

"The UK is sleepwalking towards a serious, long term weakening of its TV production industry," said Hall, in front of a DCMS committee in Westminster on Tuesday November 7th .

Hall proposed the idea of a new, paid-for on-demand service featuring BBC programming, following the closure of the BBC Store after only 18 months.

The appetite for video on demand (VOD) and other third-party platforms is growing in the UK and abroad, in what is a rapidly changing TV market.

Virgin Media launches new 4K set-top box, tablet and apps

Credit: Virgin Media

In addition to an updated set-top box, Virgin is launching an on-demand viewing app, a kids app, a TellyTablet and a film rental platform.

The new 4k-ready V6 box is half the size of the former TiVo box, and is packed with new features. It allows viewers to record six programmes at once, while viewing a seventh.

Subscribers will also be able to access Netflix and YouTube through the new boxes.

The new set-top box is fully compatible with old TiVo boxes, so customers can upgrade to the new system while keeping their saved recordings and settings intact.

Netflix swoops to conquer: An interview with Ted Sarandos

Ted Sarandos was interviewed by Francine Stock at the RTS London Conference (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Is Netflix set on “world domination”? That was one of the themes in this intriguing encounter between the company’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, and Francine Stock, presenter of Radio 4’s The Film Programme. Since a huge expansion across the globe in January, only China, North Korea, Crimea and Syria remain outside the streaming service’s worldwide reach. 

The horn of plenty: TV in a hyperconnected world

The panel (L-R): Hugh Dennis, Sue Unerman, Jim Ryan, Simon Pitts and Ben McOwen Wilson  panel (L-R): Hugh Dennis, Sue Unerman, Jim Ryan, Simon Pitts and Ben McOwen Wilson (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Comedian Hugh Dennis aired the thoughts of many trying to navigate the new television landscape when he introduced this session. In a video diary shown to conference delegates, he was seen stuck inside a room for a month. His task was to watch all the content available to modern audiences. 

“Watching telly used to be so easy,” he complained. “Four channels, maybe five – everyone watched the same thing in the same place at the same time, unless your family was at the cutting edge of technology and had a VCR.”