Sky Boss Says Talks Still Ongoing on Warner Content Deal, Sets Out Commissioning Strategy

Dana Strong, CEO of Comcast-owned Sky Group has promised customers of the U

Published Time: 04.06.2024 - 15:31:24 Modified Time: 04.06.2024 - 15:31:24

Dana Strong, CEO of Comcast-owned Sky Group has promised customers of the U.K. media conglomerate will continue to receive Warner Bros Discovery content on Sky platforms, saying that discussions with the studio to extend their content agreement are ongoing.

“We’ve been a partner with Warner for a very long time,” said Strong, adding that they’re “in conversation” about the future of their deal.

The deal, which primarily covers HBO content such as “Succession” and “And Just Like That,” is set to expire next year. Given the rise of studio-owned streamers, at the beginning of the multi-year output deal it seemed it would be unlikely to be renewed, with WBD focusing on funnelling exclusive content to its own streaming offering Max.

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As the rollout of Max has floundered in some territories and the general streaming landscape has shifted, studios such as Disney and, presumably, WBD, are instead returning to the older model of licensing and windowing.

“All of that is starting to open up,” Strong acknowledged while in conversation at the Deloitte and Enders Analysis Media & Telecoms 2024 and Beyond Conference. “Regardless, in every scenario, Sky customers will have Warner content on Sky platforms.”

Strong also opened up about Sky’s content strategy, outlining the three pillars as commissioning, acquisition and partnerships with SVODs. Of commi -

ssioning, she restated Sky’s commitment to the U.K., saying “we’re really passionate about the UK cultural sector.” In particular she pointed to “tentpole” content such as the upcoming “The Day of the Jackal” remake with Eddie Redmayne and Lashana Lynch as being key to the strategy, as well as series investments such as “Gangs of London” that will keep customers returning. The final prong of the strategy is “content that takes people by surprise,” for which she cited “Mary and George” and “The Tattooist of Auschwitz.” For the latter, she said, the first episode had a higher viewership than the first episode of the highly anticipated fourth (and final) season of “Succession.”

Strong also said sports continues to be integral to Sky’s offering, pointing out it is “more resilient than any form of linear, live content.”

“Sport matters to communities, it matters to families. It creates moments…Sky likes to be culturally relevant and in the middle of the zeitgeist helping create big moments.”

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