Sky Executive Touts Original Programming, Says Firm Is "Partner of Choice" for Content Companies

Courtesy of Sky


The company, in which Fox owns a 39 percent stake, presented at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, while James Murdoch said there was no decision on what to do with the conglomerate's stake.

European pay TV giant Sky continues to focus on providing popular content, including a growing number of originals, said Rob Kingston, Sky group director of investor relations, at an investor conference in New York on Monday.

Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, he called Sky the "partner of choice" for content rights holders, citing the company's focus on keeping content secure, its marketing power, "deep customer insights" and "broad and new monetization opportunities." He touted output deals with the big Hollywood studios and programming deals with such TV powerhouses as HBO and Showtime as a sign of Sky's success as a deal partner for U.S. content giants.

Kingston said "deeper investment" in original Sky productions has, meanwhile, come amid research showing subscribers value local originals. "Success in original content doesn't come over night," with the company this year offering more than 1,000 hours of originals, he added.

Sky, led by CEO Jeremy Darroch, has film output deals with the major Hollywood studios and a growing number of original series, such as FortitudePenny DreadfulThe Young PopeGuerilla and Jamestown. Sky has the "leading content business in Europe," Kingston told the UBS conference. 

Sky, in which 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, operates in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria.

Analysts have debated whether Fox would look to buy full control of Sky in the near future, but the topic didn't come up in the session. Some have said that Sky's post-Brexit referendum stock decline wasn't steep enough to make a difference. They also argued that Fox top executives have consistently signaled they have no immediate plans to buy full control or sell the Sky stake.

"At the moment, there is no urgency for us to do anything other than harvest value out of Sky," said Fox CFO John Nallen before the Brexit vote. "There is no catalyst for us to say we need to change that.” Fox CEO James Murdoch earlier in the UBS conference day had said he had nothing new to say about the topic, adding that the company hasn't made a decision on changing its current ownership stake. "The Sky business is a great business," he said. "At this point, we haven't made any decision."