Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

19th June 2011

‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky
Posted by at 1.05pm | No responses | Television

On Monday I watched the final episode of season 2 of Glee on E4. That was the last time I’ll be able to watch it for free, because Sky have won the rights and will be screening season 3 in the Autumn. It’s disappointing, but frankly I’d be more upset if season 2 hadn’t been so inconsistent in quality.

It got me thinking – Sky likes to claim that it shook up the “cosy duopoly” of the BBC and ITV by bringing much-needed innovation to British TV. There’s not much doubt that a shake-up happened. But is Sky One really innovative, or is their success largely based on programmes that have built an audience on free-to-air channels?

It’s not a new phenomenon. I remember back in 1992 or thereabouts, when LA Law, a modest success on ITV, was snatched by Sky One, causing much consternation (although not with my family, as we had cable by then and I felt quite smug about the whole thing).

Friends, Lost, House and Mad Men all built up audiences on terrestrial channels before Sky opened up their chequebook and locked the rights away on their pay channels.

On the other hand, there have been cases where Sky fell down and the free-to-air channels came to the rescue. Family Guy failed to find an audience on Sky One (largely due to lamentable scheduling – 6.30pm on weeknights and cut to ribbons). The BBC took a big chance by picking up the rights, but it is now one of the bedrocks of BBC3’s lineup.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer did not perform well when Sky first showed it. It rated so badly, in fact, that Sky One dropped it halfway through its initial run. The BBC showed more faith, and built it into a cult hit. Oddly enough Sky then quickly found a slot for it again.

This isn’t an anti-Sky rant. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Sky doing this – it’s business, after all – but to claim it is “innovation” is a step too far.

Anyway, please enjoy this incredibly cheesy Sky promo from 1990.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.