Sky Studios eyes more deficit financing as US streaming market cools

Gangs Of London

Sky Studios is looking to deficit finance more scripted projects without a US partner, as the Stateside streaming commissioning pull-back impacts business across Europe.

The European operator has previously tended to secure US partners on its high-cost dramas ahead of commission, with the likes of AMC joining Sky’s Gangs Of London and Comcast sibling Peacock joining the remake of Day Of The Jackal revealed last year.

Meghan Lyvers

Sky Studios’ director of original drama Meghan Lyvers, who confirmed today that Eddie Redmayne will headline that show, told Series Mania that the current environment means the “touchpoint” with the US is now occurring later.

“Like everyone, we have had to work out how to build our finance plans in a synergistic way,” the former CBS Studios exec told Series Mania here in Lille.

With US streamer spending slowing, Lyvers talked up the capability of Sky Studios to fully fund shows, which can then be sold back to the US via NBCU’s sales arm, or third parties, depending on deals.

“If it’s not working in the US, we can deficit finance ourselves and sell it later, or we can go in with more coproductions partners on this end, where we might not have done previously.

“If we can support it ourselves and then sell it on later, then we will do that – it is perhaps changing the touchpoint of when we go into the US,” she added.

Wishlists, HBO & Comcast sale talk

Lyvers said Sky Studios in the UK is currently looking for three main pillars of content made up of: prestige limited event series, such as Julianne Moore-starring Sky/AMC period drama Mary & George; cinematic series, such as Day of The Jackal; and contemporary returning series.

Of the latter, Lyvers said she did not want “week-to-week and while we don’t mind franchise or procedurals, we need them to be serialised. We need characters to be a bit more complex or emotionally grey.”

Nils Hartmann

Shows can also be commissioned across Sky’s European footprint, but Nils Hartmann, EVP of Sky Studios Germany & Italy, said it was on a case-by-case basis.

“We are exchanging where it makes sense, with the big IP’s for example. Gomorrah is the one that changed the face of the industry and has travelled across both, but we will continue with a focus on shows that need to work for their home markets.

“Chances are, if they are good shows, they will travel and we have those collaborations within.”

Hartmann and Lyvers declined to comment on recent reports that Sky parent Comcast is looking to sell of its Italian and German operations, and the duo also talked around the extension of the HBO output deal.

“I’m not worried about HBO,” said Hartmann. “It has been fantastic and it will be for another couple of years.”

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