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What opportunities could Sky’s station rebrands present to advertisers?

On Monday 27th January, the Universal station closed and, in its place, Sky launched Sky Comedy, which will broadcast US comedies, talk shows and sitcoms from HBO, NBC and Showtime. Shows will include The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

The channel launched with 0.1% share of commercial impacts (SOCI) for individuals, reaching a total of 321k viewers in its first day – down on Universal’s 0.3% individual SOCI across the first 3 weeks in January, but on par with Investigation Discovery (0.10%).

The station is expected to draw in a younger male audience – although we will have to wait a couple of weeks before being able to verify if this is the case.

Other recent channel rebrands on Sky include Real Lives becoming Sky Crime – the home of true crime, a genre growing in popularity. The station launched on 1st October 2019 with a massive increase in viewing to the station, with commercial adult impacts 10x higher in October than in September. Sky are attributing this massive increase in viewing to the heavily promoted ‘I Love You, Now Die’ drawing new audiences to the channel.

Sky has three more new station launches in the pipeline including Sky Nature, Sky Documentaries and Sky History, creating competition with the discovery stations. These new stations are expected to start broadcasting in March this year.

Comcast, Sky’s American owners have also recently announced they will be creating a new world news station, NBC Sky World News, to rival BBC World News and CNN International. The channel is scheduled to start broadcasting over the summer.

All Response Media viewpoint
Sky Comedy numbers are small but may grow as audiences becomes aware of the station. But it will likely remain behind their rival station Comedy Central (0.7% SOCI) and won’t make a huge difference to the over overall market. However, from a client perspective this may be a positive shift; Universal had an older profile leaning to 45+ females (54% of its audience). This particular audience isn’t in short supply, taking up 43% of all commercial impacts and holding strong year-on-year in 2019. Whereas Sky Comedy opens up another option for advertisers who want to reach a younger and/or male audience, both of which are in much shorter supply on linear TV.

With younger audiences migrating away from linear TV to other ways of consuming content – broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) as well as subscription services, broadcasters are adapting to accommodate this within their VOD platforms. None more so than Sky, as seen with their partnership with Netflix which can now be watched through Sky Q. Due to Sky’s subscription model, the customer’s viewing experience will always come first, even if this cannibalises linear viewing and advertisers, but it is reassuring to see that they are still investing new stations. Anything that helps to take impacts from the BBC or retain younger audience on linear TV is positive for advertisers.

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