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Pan-European pay TV giant Sky will this summer launch a major initiative to “bring the best of the arts” to its 21 million customers across the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria.
The company, which says it is Europe’s biggest investor in television, has been focusing on developing content initiatives across its markets since its creation in November when BSkyB acquired 21st Century Fox’s Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland. Fox continues to own a 39 percent stake in the company.
The initiative will be anchored by the launch of a Sky Arts Production Hub, “a commissioning and production center of excellence” based in Milan, Italy. Sky said it will be dedicated to creating arts programming for Sky customers across Europe. “Italy was chosen because of its worldwide reputation for creativity, production quality and talent, making it the ideal place to produce the kind of arts programming that will appeal across different markets,” the company said.
The hub will focus on producing pan-European events “that will unite international audiences in a unique celebration of the arts.” The inaugural event will be the Sky Arts Photographer of the Year in 2016. The hub will also produce a slate of arts programming for all Sky territories and content commissioned locally.
Meanwhile, Sky Arts in the U.K. and Ireland will get a re-launch to offer on-demand arts programming with more than 1,000 hours of content available at launch. The Sky Arts 1 and Sky Arts 2 channels will merge to create a single network, with Sky promising a 10 percent increase in its programming investment. The new Sky Arts network will launch on June 9.
Already launched as Sky Arte in Italy at the end of 2012, Sky Arts will also be coming to Germany and Austria, the company said.
Said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch: “Bringing the three Sky businesses together has opened up the opportunity to create new and exciting content on a greater scale. As an international company, we can raise our ambition and make a bigger impact for millions of customers across Europe.”
He added: “Today’s announcement represents a major new commitment which will bring customers high-quality and distinctive content covering the full breadth of the arts. It builds on Sky’s position as Europe’s leading entertainment company and underlines our ambition to invest at scale in even more of our own original content.”
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