Sky to launch new premium content channel - SoHo

The wait is over for fans of quality television as SKY announces new premium entertainment channel.

SKY subscribers will soon have access to the very best in quality entertainment and drama from across the globe when SKY launches SoHo, a brand new premium channel at the end of October.

SKY Television CEO John Fellet said the company’s investment in standout content will truly differentiate SKY’s customer offering.

“We agree with some media commentators who state New Zealanders are missing out on quality television and we’re proud to be doing something about this. While other networks are ignoring critically-acclaimed content, we are delighted to be offering it a home in this country,”

“The launch of SoHo, a dedicated channel for the discerning television fan, enables us to offer a compelling selection of content for the engaged viewer who wants more  intelligent, dramatic, provocative and distinctive programming choices. For many New Zealanders this will become their favourite channel,” he said.

SoHo’s broad spectrum of content offers something for everyone

Travis Dunbar, SKY’s Director of Entertainment Content said much of the programming to be broadcast on SoHo has never screened in New Zealand before and will feature consistently in easily accessible primetime slots.

“Viewers can rest assured that as well as bringing them the best television on the planet as soon as it is available to us, we will remain committed to these programmes throughout their run, so they’ve no need to worry about their favourite being dropped mid-season or moved to an inaccessible timeslot,” he said.

SoHo will feature an outstanding content line up, with the main criteria for programming acquisition being originality, quality and distinction. This includes the highly-anticipated Game of Thrones, the fantasy drama starring Sean Bean based on the series of books ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin; the dark and disturbing American reimagining of the Danish masterpiece The Killing; thrilling six-part BBC spy drama The Hour set in a 1950’s newsroom where the reporters become embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy; BBC’s noir thriller The Shadow Line about a murder investigation; Hell on Wheels, AMC’s upcoming American period drama set during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad; series 2 of the critically acclaimed prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire; Treme, following a group of New Orleans residents rebuilding their city and lives following Hurricane Katrina, and the Michael Mann directed horse-racing drama Luck starring Dustin Hoffman.

“SoHo is proud to also host new episodes of drama that has been abandoned by other networks with continuation of series such as Rescue Me and will also reintroduce viewers to classic iconic content such as The Wire, Six Feet Under and The Sopranos. All available content will be screened in HD, with the exception of some classic library content which is only available in standard definition,” said Mr Dunbar.

Programming is structured around a 6.5 hour block of content which plays four times in each 24 hour period. Key series will screen twice each week in primetime and SoHo will feature a Box Set Weekend every week, where back to back episodes of full seasons of iconic series will air. Box Set Weekends scheduled at launch include the latest season of True Blood, 2010’s award-winning first season of Boardwalk Empire, season 5 of Dexter and the original season of HBO’s The Wire.
While the combined launch schedule of SoHo is predominantly content made for pay television, representing less than 5% of all the series made in the US market each year, it is over-represented in nominations for Emmy’s, Golden Globes and Critics-Choice Awards. SoHo will launch at 3pm on Monday October 31st on SKY Channel 010. All content will air uncut and uninterrupted. SoHo will be available free to all SKY Subscribers for that day and throughout the calendar month of November, following which it will be available to all SKY Basic Subscribers as a premium channel for an additional $9.99 per month.

SoHo Secures Exclusive Deal with HBO

As part of the SoHo launch, SKY is delighted to confirm an exclusive content deal with Home Box Office (HBO), a multi-year, multi-platform deal which will see SKY become The Home of HBO in New Zealand.

Travis Dunbar said the HBO output deal adds great value and quality to SKY’s entertainment programming across a number of platforms. Under the agreement all new HBO content including series, mini-series, films, documentaries and comedy specials will be broadcast exclusively, in both standard and high definition, across all SKY platforms. The deal also incorporates free-to-air broadcast rights for Prime Television.

“Our agreement with HBO, a company with an outstanding reputation for critically-acclaimed original programming made specifically for pay-TV, shows our commitment to provide the best pay-TV experience for our customers,”

“This output deal is our company’s first of this size for exclusive series content. HBO produces a small number of quality cable shows each year and our commitment is to purchase all of their new content on an annual basis. This exclusive arrangement will form the backbone of the programming content for SoHo,” said Mr Dunbar, adding the HBO content will be complemented with additional exclusive and quality first run series from both the US and UK markets.

“Series such as True Blood which have found their natural home on Prime will continue to be available to our free-to-air viewers and our deal allows us the flexibility to provide Prime with other terrific drama content to supplement their schedule,” he said.

“We are flattered to be a part of this huge commitment by SKY to create a home for such distinguished programming,” added Jennifer Bowen, senior vice president, HBO International Sales. “It is SKY’s creativity and innovation that makes them a perfect partner for HBO.”

As well as available across SKY’s entertainment platforms, HBO content will also be accessible to SKY customers through iSKY.

SoHo at a glance

• SoHo will launch on Monday 31 October at 3.00pm
• SoHo will be available on SKY Channel 010
• SoHo will screen uninterrupted, un-cut HD quality content
• Exclusive deal with HBO will see all new HBO productions including series, mini-series, documentaries and comedy specials broadcast across SKY platforms including pay channels, free-to-air on Prime and on iSKY.
• SoHo scheduled content is uncut and commercial free. Programming runs in a six hour block and each programme will air two days a week.
• Approximately 90 seconds commercial airtime per hour between scheduled programming
• Free to all SKY Subscribers from 31 October 2011 – 30 November 2011
• Monthly subscription fee from 1 December 2011 of $9.99 per month
• HD programming will be accessible for subscribers with MY SKY HDi and HD Ticket.
• The majority of content will be broadcast in HD, with the exception of some classic library content which is only available in SD.
• iSKY catch up available as well as library content.

SoHo launch programming at a glance
• New content includes Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Treme, The Killing, The Hour, Rescue Me, Dexter, In Treatment, Weeds, How to Make it In America, Luck, Girls, Bored to Death, Hell On Wheels, Pillars Of The Earth, Camelot
• Premium library content includes The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Entourage, True Blood, Mad Men, The Wire

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  • David

    Best news from Sky TV so far this year. It’s a good start and will force other TV channels (looks at TVNZ / TV3) to stop cancelling TV shows in mid run and sitting on them for 2-3 years.

    And there’s still hope for a Scifi Channel.

  • MJ

    This would be good news if sky didn’t bundle all the other programming I’m not interested in. $50 + $9.99. This is expensive. More finer grained choice for what content I want to watch and pay for is more interesting to me. Not this stupid package model sky does to lump crap together that I’m not interested in. Come on Netflix and Hulu. Where the hell are you??? I like their on demand programming model and pricing better, like they have in the USA.

  • Preston

    MJ you can’t just buy one channel that’s pretty obvious

  • Rusty Viewer

    Might still be cheaper to just buy the DVDs of the series?

  • David Finch

    And why shouldn’t we be able to subscribe to just one or two or three channels? Why is it obvious that we can’t? Sky – Not MY happy place. Will keep buying the DVDs.

  • Preston

    It’s pretty much business 101 to package everything in a deal to make the customer spend as much as possible

  • joshnz

    the Pay TV model doesnt allow customers to pay for a small amount of channels as this would increase the price for everyone it would be great if sky did ask customers what they WANTED so they could offer us different channels

  • David Finch

    The pay TV model as practiced by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky is a giant have. And sadly the fools prepared to pay for it are contributing to the destruction of free-to-air TV for the rest of us. Time for pay TV to be regulated. And time to vote in a government which gives a stuff about the 50% of us who either can’t afford or can’t stomach Sky.

  • Preston

    Nobody’s forcing you to pay for sky, if it’s such a “have” to pay for all those channels you can’t stomach. There’s always freeview for plebians like you david finch

  • David Finch

    Nice attitude Preston. So I’m a pleb because I expect to have access to quality programming on TVNZ7 and other free-to-air channels rather than pay through the nose for sport and crappy movies I will never watch on Sky?  It’s time for Sky to be regulated and what’s left of real public broadcasting in tihis country to be protected and properly funded. I choose not to support the corrupt Rupert Murdoch empire so… Sky. Not MY happy place.  

  • Ant

    The channels going to cost money because it s not made to be free. They have to charge for the channel because of contract agreement with HBO.

  • Wibble

    Excellent news. For years now free-to-air channels in NZ (with the exception of TVNZ7 which the government is closing down) have shown the most egregious prolefeed, interrupted by scandalously long ad breaks in which merchants attempt to sell baubles to insolvent mooncalves.

    Unless there is a proper commitment to public broadcasting in this country (don’t hold your breath), I am more than willing to shell out the hard-earned for uninterrupted quality TV. Sky is excellent value for sports. Even the basic package is not without merit: BBC World alone is worth the money.

    Roll on SoHo!

  • David Finch

    And what’s with that snobby SoHo name? It tells me everything I need to know about who Sky thinks will fork out for this.

    By the way… Sky and TVNZ: can we please have our channels back?  Kidzone was developed with pubic money for TVNZ6. Heartland’s programming was nearly all paid for by taxpayers. Why are we having to pay Sky to see them again? Theft, pure and simple.

  • JamesW

    Does anyone know what song they’re using on the Soho promos?

  • Bella

    Does no one know the song, I’ve tries to lyric search it but no luck!

  • ell

    The song is called “I’ll Never Survive” from Extreme Music. The catalogue number is XCD206_02.

    It’s from library/production music so will be impossible to locate in stores.