Sky to Debut Original Drama 'Fortitude' Across All Its Markets in Company First

Courtesy of BSkyB
Sky's Stuart Murphy

The pan-European pay TV giant's director of entertainment highlights the "growing opportunity for us to create even more high-quality drama for international audiences."

Pan-European TV giant Sky will start airing its new original drama Fortitude simultaneously in its five markets in a company first.

The move comes after last year's acquisition of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, which owns a 39-percent stake in Sky.

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The company will air the show at the same time across its pay TV platforms in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, starting on Jan. 29. It will also debut in the U.S. on Pivot that day.

"The series is the first Sky original program to premiere simultaneously across all five markets since Sky created Europe’s leading entertainment company late last year," the company said in announcing the news. It had previously highlighted that the deals in Germany and Italy make it Europe's top TV content investor and that it would be able to leverage content across its platforms as it has done with such shows as Italian mafia series Gomorrah, which haven't aired simultaneously though.

In another sign of the closer coordination of programming decisions across the enlarged company, Sky earlier this week named Gary Davey managing director content. He is adding oversight of the U.K. and Ireland channels to his programming oversight in Germany.

Fortitude, a 12-part arctic crime drama, stars former Doctor Who lead Christopher Eccleston, Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci and Sofie Grabol. Starz was originally a co-producer but then pulled out.

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The company has said the show has been the biggest hit to date for its international rights sales arm. Said Stuart Murphy, Sky’s director of entertainment: "Launching simultaneously to 20 million customers demonstrates Sky’s increased reach across Europe, while record sales around the world mean an even bigger impact and greater returns."

He added: "The fantastic reaction to Fortitude highlights the growing opportunity for us to create even more high-quality drama for international audiences in the future."

Twitter: @georgszalai