Magazine article Variety

BSkyB Broadens Buying Base with Comedy Slate

Magazine article Variety

BSkyB Broadens Buying Base with Comedy Slate

Article excerpt

LONDON

In 2010, when U.K. paybox BSkyB announced it was adding comedy to its commissioning slate, few observers thought the satcaster would end up laughing.

BSkyB's previous attempt at building a portfolio of homegrown comedy had failed to produce a single hit. Yet against the odds, BSkyB now boasts a comedy slate to be reckoned with.

Shows such as supermarket sitcom "Trollied" and the surreal cultish "This Is Jinsy" would not look out of place on the schedule of archrival BBC or Channel 4, another competitor with a reputation for great laffers.

"Every comedy we greenlit two years ago has gone to a second series," says BSkyB content chief Sophie T\irner Laing.

The success of the satcaster's comedy initiative speaks volumes for how far the BSkyB has come in terms of putting big money behind local fare.

"You need a certain scale," BSkyB COO Mike Darcey recently explained to the U.K. 's Royal Television Society, "and a brand and credibility both with consumers but also with talent, and fundamentally you need a business model that can invest in content, put it somewhere and monetize it in a way that pays back.

"It's taken us 20-odd years to get to a point where we think we have a strong enough business model to be able to invest in high-end content across drama, comedy and the like and feel that it works."

Embracing factual, drama, arts, natural history and now comedy, the paybox has lured A-list U.K. TV talent, including natural history icon David Attenborough, Steve Coogan and John Simm to star in a lineup of shows that are changing perceptions of what the paybox stands for. …

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