Global content demand has Sky doubling down on original content spend

original content spend

Original content spend globally has been increasing steadily for the past several quarters as consumer demand for originals continues unabated. And, obviously, it’s not just the big streamers that are holding the gas pedal to the floor. Traditional broadcasters and distributors have gotten in on the act as well.

Sky – with the backing of its new owners, Comcast – this week announced plans to create new titles for its own channels, NBC broadcast and cablenets, as well as Universal Pictures. And, of course, it’ll put additional original content on the market for other distributors to license, a la the studio arms of CBS and ABC. They’ve made hay selling content to the competition, like Netflix and Amazon.

Sky’s development program will be Europe-wide, it said this week. And it plans to more than double its present output.

“This is a transformational development for us,” Sky CEO Jeremy Darrock said. “Sky Studios will drive our vision to be the leading force in European content development and production.

Lofty Goal for Sky Studios

“Our ambition is to make Sky Studios famous for quality content and a place where Europe’s top creatives will want to do their best work.”

It’s already off to a good start. Sky earned critical – and, more importantly – viewer acclaim for its recent mini-series Chernobyl. Sky said it was its most successful original content ever.

Gary Davey, Sky UK’s MD of content, is Sky Studios’ new chief executive. He says the originals push is “perfectly timed to meet the growing content demands” of Sky customers.

And, of course, those of Comcast as well. Sky’s parent is certain to leverage some, or all, of that original content output for its new streaming service set to launch next year.

The bottom line

Digital TV Research says there currently are more than 368 million SVOD subscriptions globally, a number it expects to more than double to 777 million by 2023 as more users increase the number of subscriptions they own.

The global demand for original content those numbers will create is massive. The multi-billion originals budget at Netflix and Amazon show.

Our Global Video Index found content owners doubled their processing output between 2016 and 2017. They also nearly tripled output from 2017 to 2018. Medium-form content (5-20 minutes) processing increased 171%. Long-form content (20+ minutes) was up 189%. Obviously, getting new content in front of subscribers quickly is crucial to maintaining user engagement.

Original content is an opportunity to attract, and keep, customers. It also creates additional revenue lines by selling that content to the highest bidder. CBS has developed that part of their business into an art form. For example, it creates an original for its network, then sells past seasons to an SVOD provider, or, to CBS All Access.

As CBS Corp. President and Acting CEO Joe Ianniello said during the Credit Suisse Annual Communications Conference this month, “Every time we drop an original, we see spikes in subscribers.” And he doesn’t plan on keeping content exclusivity – there’s a lot of money in licensing.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn