21st Century Fox's FX Networks, U.K.'s BSkyB to Co-Develop Comedies

FX hit show "Louie"

The two-year deal will see the unit of Rupert Murdoch's firm and the British pay TV giant, in which Fox owns a 39 percent stake, co-fund and co-develop half-hour scripted comedies for audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

LONDON -- BSkyB and 21st Century Fox's FX Networks on Thursday announced an agreement to work together to develop new comedies for audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

The two-year agreement will see FX Networks, part of Rupert Murdoch's conglomerate, and BSkyB, in which Fox owns a 39 percent stake, co-fund and co-develop new half-hour scripted comedy projects. If they are ordered to series, the shows would air on Sky1 HD or Sky Atlantic HD in the U.K. and Ireland and on FX Networks channels in the U.S.

In a sign that the focus will be on the edgier fare FX has become known for, BSkyB said it would air the programs after the so-called watershed in the U.K., meaning late enough to keep them out of time slots known to draw many children.

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"The co-development deal builds on Sky and FX Networks' expertise in creating distinctive, award-winning comedy and will involve the very best on- and off-screen talent from both Britain and the U.S.," BSkyB said.

Financial details weren't disclosed.

"The goal is to create new shows that will sit alongside series such as Sky's A Touch of Cloth and Alan Partridge's Mid-Morning Matters and FX Networks' Louie and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," BSkyB said. "Homegrown Sky shows that have previously been [aired] on U.S. networks include An Idiot Abroad, A Young Doctor's Notebook, Spy, Moone Boy and Doll and Em.

"We are truly excited to partner with Sky and create comedies that will bridge the Atlantic and entertain audiences in both the U.K. and U.S.," said Eric Schrier, president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions. "This partnership will open doors for us to discover new comedy talent and develop their stories in this unique foreign exchange program."

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Lucy Lumsden, BSkyB's head of comedy, said: "We're hugely excited about working with FX Networks to develop distinctive brand-new comedy and further strengthen our commitment to original homegrown programming."

BSkyB has been focused on what it has said will be its "biggest ever year of entertainment," featuring new comedy and drama series from such stars as Chris O'Dowd, Nick Frost, Olivia Colman, Emily Mortimer and Dominic Cooper. The push is part of the company's plan to spend $990 million a year (£600 million) on original U.K. content.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai