Hollywood Reporter

Sky CEO Dana Strong on Sports Strategy Fsalinks

Comcast-owned European pay-TV, media and telecom giant Sky has made a full-court press to lock down sports rights longer-term due to the benefits of sports content, CEO Dana Strong told a London conference on Tuesday.

During a fireside chat at Deloitte’s Media & Telecoms 2024 and Beyond Conference, she was asked about Sky’s sports strategy. “I am pretty passionate about sport,” and Sky has “extraordinary strength” in the field, she said.

About 18-24 months ago, “we really decided to double down and go long on sport,” Strong shared. That has helped build “a strategic moat” around sports, she said. “Sport matters because it is resilient,” more so than other forms of linear TV. It matters to consumers and communities, she added.

Also, “we have a very, very sophisticated monetization machine for sport,” including pay-TV and streaming, Strong also argued. “Sky likes to be culturally relevant” and be part of “moments,” she added. Sports viewership is up 17 percent over the past year, including among women and young audiences, thanks to a big strategy of “expansive fandom,” the Sky CEO shared.

Discussing Sky’s content strategy, including originals, acquired and licensed Strong said the focus is on ensuring value for consumers. Original productions include tentpole content, such as the upcoming The Day of the Jackal, that can drive people to subscribe to Sky, perennial programming, such as Gangs of London, that retain and bring back consumers, plus “content that takes people by surprise,” such as The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Mary & George. Tattooist had higher episode 1 viewership than for episode 1 of season 4 of Succession, Strong shared.

About the future of Warner Bros. Discovery’s content deal with Sky, given WBD has been looking at launching Max in the U.K., Strong said its content will be available on Sky.

Late last year, Strong expressed optimism about Sky being able to continue its role as the home of HBO and Max in the U.K. and bullish about its business opportunity in Germany. Her comments came after recurring market chatter about a possible sale of the firm’s Sky Deutschland unit in Germany and discussions about Warner Bros. Discovery’s possible future strategy for HBO and Max in the U.K., including a possible launch of its own streaming service.

Earlier this year, Cécile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of Sky Studios and chief content officer of Sky, lauded how the company has continued to double down on original content under Comcast’s ownership. “2024 is a year where you really see the results of the investments,” Frot-Coutaz said, touting “the level of ambition.” “It’s really now paying off, and that’s the case across all genres.”


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