Sky’s content chief, Gary Davey, has slammed the BBC’s “bizarre” concerns over the arrival of SVOD players Netflix and Amazon in the UK market.
Sky Content managing director Davey said, “the golden age of television is just getting started”, and considered the entrance of on-demand players an example of giving “customers more choice” and writers, producers and production staff “more opportunities”.
“In a speech on Thursday, Tony Hall, the BBC director-general, said the entire UK production industry was facing a significant threat thanks to the arrival of competition from streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon,” Davey said in an article first published by the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“If anything, the exact opposite is true. What he sees as a threat, I see as an opportunity.”
Davey also rubbished that Hall’s prediction the UK production business was facing a multi-million pound original content spend shortfall by 2026.
“The BBC’s prediction of a £500 million [€565 million] deficit in original UK content spend is rather bizarre. With a guaranteed income for the next decade it clearly cannot be referring to itself.
“And the BBC does not appear to have taken into account the increased spend from pay TV companies like Sky, or other content providers including Apple, who recently announced plans to step up their [sic] original content spend in Europe.”
Davey claimed the BBC, which is taxpayer-funded, was “preparing the ground to ask for even greater protection from competition, and new handouts”, and said suggestions the UK production sector was “sleepwalking” towards danger was “simply absurd”.
The Sky chief challenged the pubcaster to “back the UK production sector”, and said there was “no reason why Sky couldn’t coproduce shows with PSBs”, referring to Sky Germany’s coproduction with state broadcaster ARD, Babylon Berlin.
“At this critical time, we have never been more excited about the scale, quality and authenticity of UK TV,” said Davey. “The combination of consumer appetite and competition is pushing the quality of television to a whole new level, and I’m proud that the British production sector is leading the charge. The BBC might feel threatened, but not the rest of us. And we’re just getting started.”
A BBC insider said: “Mr Davey doesn’t appear to have read the report from respected analysts which included the new global investment, but warned that it wasn’t enough to fill the potential £500 million gap in funding for British programmes. We’re certainly not asking for any handouts and Tony was clear that there’s an opportunity to seize, but the reality is that outside news and sport industry experts calculate that Sky spends less than 10% of its content budget on original UK content.”