Sky will continue to expand its original content spend and betting on iPhone-like revenue opportunities thanks to new technologies, such as a recently launched broadband-powered TV, which offers monthly payment plans, CEO Dana Strong told a conference in London on Thursday.
Discussing Sky’s focus on expanding its original content, with past hits such as Chernobylshe said the company plays a “huge role” in the UK’s “cultural economy” with more than £500 million (more than $610 million) spent this year on original content on more than 200 originals, she told the Media and Telecoms 2022 & Beyond conference, hosted by Deloitte and Enders Analysis.
The opening of the Sky Studios Elstree production complex due to open in a few months will bring $3 billion worth of productions to the UK over five years, she praised. Importantly, “we’ve done a great job with multiple different voices,” ensuring that “the range of storytelling … is now very comprehensive and inclusive.”
Offering its own content and the offerings of other streamers and media companies makes this an increasingly important question for Sky: “How can we connect consumers with content.”
Sky Glass, a broadband TV set that does not require a satellite dish to access the company’s full range of services and new features, including a playlist of content from various services, launched in the UK in October and rolled out in other markets this year.
“Technological innovation has always been at the core” for Sky, Strong argued, noting that Sky Glass changes sound and colors based on, say, whether people watch movies or sports.
The CEO also referred to Sky Glass as ‘our future innovation hub’. And she said the company will roll out Sky Stream, a streaming device, and also offer cameras to enable collaborative experiences for viewers. Content aggregation is a key strategy for Sky, enabling consumers to access Sky and other content. “The core of what we do for consumers is that we collect great content and make it available for customers to choose what they want to watch,” she said, calling Sky Glass “a platform for us.”
By targeting an increasingly “streaming-based audience” in this way, Sky also opens up new consumer segments at affordable prices and creates opportunities for monetization, Strong said. The cost for the Sky Glass device varies by size, starting at £649 ($881.88) or £13 ($17.65) per month. Strong said this turns the company into “the iPhone model, effectively” thanks to monthly fees for owning a device. Strong said this was “a great next step in how we make Sky available.”
Strong noted that it has been nearly 18 months since she acquired Sky and said the company has “recovered extremely well” from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. And “we’re really on the move” with technology innovations, such as Sky Glass, and SkyShowtime’s streaming joint venture with Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS. After the partners received “full regulatory approval” earlier this year, the company will launch a new video-on-demand subscription service in more than 20 European territories, including Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Denmark , Norway and Finland this year. The areas include 90 million homes.
Comcast acquired European pay TV giant Sky in one of the media industry’s biggest deals of 2018. In January 2021, it appointed Strong as CEO, succeeding Jeremy Darroch who decided to step down from the role. Strong, reporting to Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, previously served as President, Consumer Services for Comcast Cable and has more than 25 years of international experience in telecommunications and media. She also previously served as president and COO of Virgin Media in the UK, chief transformation officer at John Malone’s Liberty Global, as well as COO of Austar in Australia.
Last fall, Strong told an industry conference that Sky would like to expand across continental Europe in the coming years, boost its content creation business and increase diversity. “There’s no question that we can all do better” in terms of diversity, she said at the time.