‘Astonishing range and quality of programming’
The judges deemed Sky Arts deemed Sky Arts a “clear winner” thanks to “bold risk-taking and genuinely innovative commissioning”.
The 24-hour channel, which also won the category last year, again impressed the judges with its bold mix of arts programming across a range of genres.
While established favourites such as Landscape and Portrait Artist Of The Year are now on their third and fourth series respectively – with Portrait Artist drawing an average audience of 379,000 each week – the channel broke through with runaway hit Urban Myths, a collection of films taking a comedic look at events that may or may not have happened.
Eddie Marsan, David Threlfall, Ben Chaplin and Noel Clarke were among the Great British talent who starred in the series.
Other programming standouts on the channel – which has a weekly reach of 1 million and a monthly reach of 5.5 million – included the Passions strand, which follows celebrities uncovering the lives of their heroes, and Tate Britain’s Great British Walks, which featured the likes of Michael Sheen and Myriam Margolyes walking in the footsteps of their favourite artists.
Sky Arts also commissioned four virtual reality pieces to support its Royal Academy documentary, and launched Art 50, inviting artists to submit work that examines what it means to be British in a post-Brexit world.
One judge described Sky Arts’ slate as an “astonishing range and quality of programming” and a “great example of what can be done with a specialist channel”.
The digital channel has been pushing to transform itself from a nostalgia brand into an entertainment powerhouse for older kids and teens. According to the judges, it has succeeded.
The studio had a banner year, with its first show, Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed, launching on CBBC in November 2017, and it maintained a constant delivery of fresh content, including original scripted comedy and top 10 lists.
The channel for kids aged six to 12 pushed the boundaries like never before, challenging its audience with dramas such as Creeped Out, The Dumping Ground and The Worst Witch.
Meanwhile, factual content reigned supreme, with a number of live events – such as Steve Backshall scaling a mighty Swiss mountain – playing well across social media.
The pre-school channel had several highlights in the theatrical arena, including Goldilocks And The Three Bears with the Northern Ballet and The Tempest, which introduced Shakespeare to children who may not get the opportunity to go to the theatre.
Much-loved shows such as Hey Duggee, Swashbuckle and Go Jetters went from strength to strength.
Despite smaller budgets and a less prominent EPG position than its competitors, C+I has retained and grown a loyal audience.
The channel focused on bringing new faces to the brand, and had a major hit on its hands with the Jo Frost-fronted Britain’s Killer Kids, which attracted a lot of coverage and generated widespread debate.
Channel 4’s foreign-language drama service expanded its boundaries with international acquisitions such as Mexican crime drama Mr Avila and Chilean drug-smuggling thriller Fugitives.
Meanwhile, Norwegian drama Young & Promising appealed to a younger demographic. Overall, Walter Presents’ catalogue grew from 32 titles from 13 countries to 64 from 20.