A quality year for a quality channel
Sky Atlantic has established itself as a home of world class television, offering viewers a raft of original content from the UK and around the globe.
The channel followed the success of 2019’s Chernobyl success with a haul of original programming that has cemented its reputation as a home for smart, grown up international drama. These include the return of Lennie James in World Productions’ Save Me Too and Pulse Flms’ Gangs of London.
Sky Atlantic also launched the latest in a line of Sky-HBO co-productions, The Third Day, written by Dennis Kelly and starring Jude Law and Naomie Harris, and that partnership remains one of the most fruitful in international commissioning.
The upmarket channel also made a name for itself as a home for female-authored drama, notably I Hate Suzie, which has been named Best Drama Programme this year, and Little Birds. The pair were respectively the directorial breakthroughs of Georgi Banks-Davies (I Hate Suzie) and Stacie Passon (Little Birds).
As well as home-grown drama, Sky’s deal with HBO allows Sky Atlantic to air acclaimed dramas including The Undoing, Mare of Easttown and Succession, while it also showcases Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia originals including Babylon Berlin, Das Boot and The New Pope.
All in all, a quality year for a quality channel.
Comedy Central kept viewers laughing during the pandemic as it averaged a share of 0.38%. It has commissioned 30 hours of original programmes, moving away from half-hour formats to create more 60-minute programmes. Among them was Rhod Gilbert’s Growing Pains, Guessable and Jon Richarsdson’s Channel Hopping. Its US shows remain key, not least Friends – Comedy Central’s most watched show by 16-34 audiences.
Fifteen years since launch, A+E Networks UK’s channel has firmly established itself as a key home of true crime. Recent hits include original productions Murder at My Door with Kym Marsh and Killer Britain with Dermot Murnaghan among a slate of almost 50 hours of British commissions and co-pros. These local commissions have jostled for prominence with high-profile US investigations, most notably Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.
Non-PSB Channel of the Year in 2019, Dave takes a shortlist slot this time. Over the years it has shifted perceptions from being considered as best known for reruns, to the home of original shows, including Meet the Richardsons, Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, Red Dwarf and Hypothetical. The Gamechanger award-winning Big Zuu’s Big Eats has also helped to introduce a younger audience to the channel.
Serving up familiarity, escapism and comfort during the pandemic, Gold paid homage to comedy classics with original retrospectives The Vicar of Dibley: Inside Out and The Fast Show: Just a Load of Blooming Catchphrases. It also brought back familiar faces in new ways in Ricky and Ralf’s Very Northern Road Trip. The Royle Family stars helped the show achieve a consolidated audience of 692,000 – the best performing non-scripted launch on the channel ever.