Sky Atlantic Land European HBO Deal

UPDATE – Sky Atlantic has since launched in Sky’s European markets of Italy, Germany and Austria, and has proven to be a huge success. Sky haven’t released any numbers regarding viewership numbers in Europe, but with stronger demand than ever for Sky across Europe via the Sky contact number, it’s fair to assume that Sky Atlantic has been a big hit. What follows is our original coverage of Sky’s exclusive deal with HBO for European broadcast rights, from November 2015.

Ever since Sky landed a deal to bring HBO programming exclusively to the UK the company have been the go to service for TV lovers. The channel that was built around that deal, Sky Atlantic, has been a huge driver of growth for Sky during these last few years, and one of the main points of differentiation in what is a highly competitive market. For customers, it’s means that the likes of Game of Thrones, Girls, The Sopranos, Last Week Tonight and many more unmissable TV programmes have landed on their screens, often at the exact same time as they’ve been broadcast in the US. Time and time again, customers on the phone number to Sky have cited access to Sky Atlantic as one of their primary reasons for not leaving Sky to join BT or Virgin, but what about those overseas Sky subscribers?

Indeed, ever since Sky completed their gigantic acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, customers in those markets have wondered when they’d see access to HBO’s programming, if ever. Well, those customers need wonder no longer, because Sky have announced that they’ve extended their partnership with HBO to bring the channels to every single one of their 21 million customers across Europe. This new deal means Sky have exclusive first run rights to broadcast in Germany, Austria and Italy until 2020. It also means that the HBO library will be available on catch up for those customers. It is expected that Sky will launch regional variations of Sky Atlantic shortly, in time to catch some of the fantastic programmes launching through HBO soon.

Those programmes include Vinyl and Westworld. Vinyl comes from the minds of Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter and Mick Jagger (Winter and Scorsese also worked on the spectacular Boardwalk Empire together), and is set in the music business during 70s New York. Due to premiere in February 2016, it stars Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano in a story that brings to life one of the most vital, dangerous and cocaine fueled periods in music history. Westworld is based on the 1973 sci-fi western of the same name and is exec produced by Jonathan Nolan and J.J Abrams and counts Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden and Thandie Newton amongst its incredible all star cast.

Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content, Sky comments: “HBO continues to deliver many of the most-talked about and exciting TV shows anywhere in the world. This new agreement, Sky’s first pan-European content deal, confirms Sky Atlantic as the home of HBO in all our markets both live and on demand. Sky and HBO share many common values, as well as a passion for high-quality television like Game of Thrones and Veep. Our partnership, in its sixth year, now escalates to a whole new level. HBO has an amazing slate planned for 2016 including Vinyl and Westworld but it will also see the premiere of our first co-production together, the Young Pope starring Jude Law.”

Charles Schreger, President, Programming Sales, HBO said: “As a partner, Sky has always shown the greatest of respect and appreciation for the HBO brand. They have shined a spotlight on our original programming and treated the shows as preciously as if they were their own. This ongoing relationship has been rewarding and successful to both of us and this expansion is representative of the trust and admiration we have for them as well as a belief that we can elevate each other even further.”

Sky ‘Stepping Up Pace’ on Innovation

Since the publication of this post, Sky have indeed truly stepped up the pace of innovation in regards to their TV service. Sky+ is better than it’s ever been before, thanks to the addition of a dedicated kids’ TV section, binge watching support and yet more catch-up TV features.

Perhaps the biggest innovation, however, has come in the form of Sky’s new Sky Q box. Much smaller than Sky+, the box features 6 tuners for recording 5 programmes and watching a sixth, the ability to stream to tablets, 4K support and much, much more. Following an extremely positive reaction to the box, Sky have retired the Sky+ box for new customers. However, they have promised to keep supporting Sky+, after pressure on the telephone number Sky. What follows is the original article in full, originally published in August 2015:

A company like Sky lives and dies by how quickly it can change shape to accommodate the changing needs and wants of a nation. The UK, it has to be said, has an extremely advanced pay-TV market, and with the likes of Virgin and BT both rapidly improving their offerings, it’s up to each company to prove that it’s got what it takes to win customers and keep them there. It’s with that in mind that companies like to throw around terms like ‘innovation’. For BT recently, that’s meant the launch of the Europe’s first 4K channel and for Sky, it’s meant pushing the third major update to Sky+ this year. Now, in a blog post on Sky’s website, Brand Director Luke Bradley-Jones has opened up about how Sky are upping the pace of their own innovations.

In the blog post, Mr. Bradley-Jones lays out what the companies thinking is behind placing such a huge emphasis on promoting on demand content above almost all else. It’s no secret that with the advent of on demand TV more and more people are choosing to watch their favourite TV programmes when it suits them, rather than at the prescribed time. He states: In fact, in the last 12 months alone there were over 2.4 billion on demand views across Sky+ and Sky Go, as more and more people choose to watch when it suits them. But live TV remains extremely popular, particularly when it comes to exclusive shows and sports like the latest gripping season of Game of Thrones, the epic drama Fortitude, and live sporting event TV like the Premier League, The Ashes and F1®.”

It’s an interesting comment, and reinforces the idea that live TV remains an extremely potent draw when you’re at risk of having it spoilt for you by an overzealous friend or coworker. Indeed, with Twitter and Facebook, it can now seem impossible to avoid spoilers without joining in the act of watching live.

His comments also illuminate the difference that simple UI changes can make. Kids TV, for example, saw a 360% increase in downloads when it was moved to the first page of the Sky+ planner rather than a page deep, as it was previously. It’s this kind of feedback which is crucial to a company like Sky, who have to constantly attempt to improve the user experience of their customers.

On the subject of Sky+ updates, something which were a rarity only a few years ago, Mr. Bradley-Jones said this: In recent years we’ve upped the pace of development on Sky+ – the nation’s favourite TV platform – and are now rolling out software updates every three to four months. That means three already in 2015, with more to come this year and next. All the changes we’re making are designed to make it even easier to quickly find something to watch – whether that’s offering personalised recommendations based on your own recordings and downloads, Smart Series Link so you never miss a returning series or offering movie trailers so you can get a quick taster before deciding which film to watch on Sky Movies.

Sky Announce Spate of new Sky 1 Commissions

It’s a wonderful time to be a Sky customer. With Christmas just a handful of days away, the company are ramping up their efforts to give everyone a healthy dose of seasonal glow – including a special free gift!

To that end, Sky have loaded Sky Cinema with countless festive classics, announced a range of Christmas specials for their own hit programmes and even scheduled a crazy 10 games in 10 days as part of their 10in10 promo on Sky Sports. Of course, it’s also an exciting time for Sky as a company, as a full takeover from 21st Century Fox looms.

But that doesn’t mean they can just forget about their flagship entertainment channel, Sky One, does it? Having taken something of a backseat to huge smash hits on Sky Atlantic like the wonderful Westworld this year, Sky are preparing to bring some fantastic new programmes to Sky One. So, what does 2017 have in store for Sky One viewers? Here’s three huge programmes.

Untitled Russell Howard project – 2017

There’s no denying that when it comes to young British comedians, there’s few with the star power of Russell Howard. The irreverent Bristol comedian made his name on comedy panel shows like Mock the Week, before spinning off onto his own BBC stand up effort – Russell Howard’s Good News.

That latter programme proved to be a huge hit for the BBC, drawing in big numbers to their now defunct BBC3 channel and really helping to turn Russell into the star he is today.

Though currently engaged in a world tour, Russell has signed a two year deal which will see him write and star in a Sky One programme. Little detail has been given about this project, but with the success of the Good News format in mind, it’s fair to imagine we’re in for something quite similar. Sky have confirmed that the 14-part series will be filmed in front of a live studio audience, and produced by Avalon.

Russell Howard said: “I am delighted to be making this new show for Sky. It’s obviously the best part of a year away but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.”

Adam MacDonald, director of Sky 1, said: “Russell is brilliantly funny and I can’t wait for his intelligent and incisive wit to be a big part of Sky 1. His new show with us will be a fantastic mix of everything we love about Russell and lots of new inventive comedy. It will be an incredible addition to Sky 1.”

Jon Thoday, Avalon Television joint managing director, said: “We are excited to be working on a new show with Russell and delighted by Sky’s ambition for it.”

Britannia – 2017

This epic historical drama, written by Spectre co-writer Jez Butterworth, is the first time Sky and Amazon have teamed up to produce a programme, and the results should be wonderful. A 10-part series set in 43AD, the story sees the Roman army invading Celtic Brittania and has an all-star cast that includes Kelly Reilly, David Morrissey, Zoe Wanamaker and Stanley Weber.

Lead writer Jez Butterworth said: “Besides being hard, hard warriors, the Celts have a belief system which makes them almost invincible. It’s a deep, heavy magic. Last time the Romans tried to invade, the mighty Julius Caesar took one look, turned round and went straight home. Now, almost a century later, the Romans are back. I’m fascinated in what happens when gods die. When an entire, ancient faith stalls, topples, collapses – and a whole new one grows in its place. New names, new faces, to suit the new times. Here we have a war between two pantheons – the Roman gods v the Celtic gods. It’s the Heavyweight Clash of All Time, the one which most shapes who we are today. And we see it all from a human perspective, of individual survival, ambition, courage, lust, loss, revenge. All the stuff the gods have always loved us humans for the most!”

Britannia is due to air in 2017, and should prove to be a huge hit for Game of Thrones fans with Sky One.

Strike Back – 2017/18

Strike Back is, er, back! New team, new section and new enemies, but still the same blend of high-octane action and compelling drama that turned Strike Back into an award-winning phenomena.

Dropping the Section programme into the modern political world of polarisation, disenchantment, violent power struggles and fear, the team are tasked with lethal manhunt to uncover a vast web of interconnected criminal intrigue. Taking them across the Middle East and Europe, will the mission prove too great for our team? You’ll have to wait to find out, because the series starts filming in 2017.

Executive producer, Andy Harries, said: “Strike Back is the show that took Left Bank Pictures onto the international stage and we are thrilled to be back with such an exciting cast and a world class team of writers, directors and producers.  With a fanbase spread over 150 countries worldwide, Strike Back is television at its very best, where the military comes first!  Our news stars have amazing physical skills which, combined with their military training is going to make the show rock.”

What Will the Takeover of Sky Mean to You?

The UK’s biggest pay TV broadcaster, Sky, is about to be taken over by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. It’s a deal which we’ve seen mooted for a number of years, and was originally supposed to go through as the phone hacking scandal broke and put the kibosh on any takeover plans.

Now, it seems like little will stand in the way of 21st Century Fox as it strives to take over the 61% of Sky that it doesn’t already own. As part of the deal, Sky’s shareholders will receive £10.75 for each share, valuing the entire company at a remarkable £18.5bn.

However, it’s far from a done deal. The Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, will have 10 days to decide whether the Fox bid raises public interest concerns – in this case, media plurality. There are genuine concerns regarding the amount of control which Rupert Murdoch has over UK media, and Mrs. Bradley can ask the regulator Ofcom to examine the deal.

Joining the chorus asking for Ofcom to investigate is Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, who said “When she stood on the steps of Downing Street this summer, the prime minister said to the people of this country that ‘when we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you’. “This is a big call. The government needs to decide whose side it’s on.”

Presuming the deal goes ahead, though, how will 21st Century Fox’s takeover of Sky affect you, your contract or what you pay. Let’s take a look.

Why is Sky being bought now?

One of the first questions most people will have about the deal to buy Sky is ‘why now’? After all, with a controlling stake in Sky, what’s the advantage of owning the entire business?

Well, it has to do with multiple factors, but primarily, it has to do with Brexit. With the cost of buying British down 15%, it’s never been cheaper to buy a major company like Sky outright, which makes the timing of this purchase to crucial.

It’s also important to note that these last 5 years have seen Sky go from a UK only operation to one which dominates massive swathes of Europe thanks to the acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, which have expanded Sky’s customer base to an astonishing 22 million.

In a call to analysts, James Murdoch, chief executive at Fox and Sky said “Sky is much more than a satellite distribution company, it’s a creative, commercial and consumer powerhouse,”

Clearly then, the purchase of Sky gives 21st Century Fox a strong foothold across Europe for a knocked down price, but there are other things to consider. With the size of Sky in 2016, the cost of negotiating rights deals would come right down, also.

Will this make prices go up?

The answer to that is as yet unknown, but it’s unlikely in the short or medium term. If you’re looking to get a pay TV contract, it might even mean lowered prices.

With a long way to go before the ratification of such a deal, the companies behind our favourite premium TV services will be on the scramble to add as many long term customers to their ranks as possible, in order to prepare for the changing landscape. That might well mean the cost of contracts coming down, which is only good news for those still in the market.

Will this make alter your Sky contract or make it void?

No, your Sky contract will remain the same, regardless of who owns the company. Further to that, it’s not possible for Sky to raise the cost of your contract mid-way through, as it would break the terms and therefore allow you to leave without penalty.

So, if you’re uneasy about the prospect of Sky being taken over and its implications for your contract – don’t be, you’re perfectly safe. If you do want to leave your contract, contact Sky directly to find out the cost and implications.

Will the takeover affect Sky’s planned expansion into mobile phone contracts?

If your attentions been captured by the news that Sky are to launch their own mobile phone network, piggy backing on O2s infrastructure, you shouldn’t be alarmed over the news of the takeover.

In fact, the launch of the mobile network is part of the reason why 21st Century Fox are so interested in Sky. Quad-play deals bundle TV, home phone, mobile and broadband into one single package and are set to take off in the UK and Europe in a big way. The ability to offer such a package to consumers is predicted to encourage significant growth for Sky, which should mean it stays within the new Sky’s plans.

Sky Announce Partnership with LG

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s an incredibly important time for Sky. This year has seen the launch of Sky Q, their latest home entertainment hardware which brings Ultra-HD support and much improved recommendations. For customers that have invested in the Sky Q platform, now’s the time for Sky to truly demonstrate what it can do – and that adds pressure.

Simultaneously, LG are facing a similar period. Christmas is a time when we invite people around the home and, invariably, end up watching a lot of things on the TV. That means that these months in the run up to the big day, people are more inclined to go out and upgrade their old TV sets.

If you’re spotting the opportunity for a partnership here, then you’re in exactly the same boat as the two aforementioned companies, as they’ve revealed an excellent deal for UK citizens.

Ahead of the winter TV schedule, Sky have announced that anyone purchasing an LG OLED 4K TV or Super UHD TV will receive free Sky Q for either 12 or 6 months when joining with the Original Bundle from now until March, 2017.

The offer combines some of the very best TV’s money can buy in LG’s OLED range with the ultimate in home 4K services for a truly world class home entertainment package. The deal will be available across all of LG’s advanced Super UHD TVs and all their 2016 OLED 4K TV models including the amazing LG Signature OLED 4K TV which features picture-on-glass technology.

All 2016 OLED models (SIGNATURE OLED, E6, C6 and B6) will receive 12 months of Sky Q multiscreen and Original Bundle.

Meanwhile Super UHD UH950V, Super UHD UH850V and Super UHD UH770 models will receive 6 months of both. For current Sky customers, you’ll receive either 6 or 12 months of Multiscreen. Needless to say that since the launch of the initiative, Sky have been speaking with a great many new customers on the Sky telephone number.

A Sky Q 2TB box lets customer’s record four shows whilst watching a fifth and can record an amazing 1,000 hours of TV. What’s more, with Sky Q Multiscreen and the Sky Q app, customers can download recordings to their tablet or smartphone to watch wherever they like.

Though the partnership doesn’t include 4K programming, Sky have made a sampling of 4K TV available for all Sky Q customers, including The Young Pope in amazing 4K. If customers do choose to upgrade, Sky offers the widest variety of entertainment in 4K anywhere in the world. They’ll enjoy amazing Ultra-HD Premier League football, movies, natural history documentaries and gripping dramas in detail and clarity never seen before at home. All they need to do is call Sky and ask for the upgrade!

Luke Bradley-Jones, Director of TV & Content Products, Sky commented: “We’re excited to enter into this partnership with LG, giving new TV owners access to the market leading ultra HD service available only with Sky Q.”

Peter Booth, Sales Director Home Entertainment, at LG Electronics, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sky to offer our customers this exclusive offer. Our OLED 4K and Super UHD TVs, deliver the very best in picture quality, displaying images in true to life colour and perfect blacks. This collaboration with Sky Q is the perfect partnership for matching Ultra HD content with the latest technology to really showcase the detail and range of colours of Ultra HD. As we move towards the busy Christmas period we look forward to offering this fantastic deal to customers who are seeking the very best home entertainment experience.”

Micky Flanagan Returns to Sky 1 with The Micky Flanagan Detours

Sky 1 has developed quite the reputation for itself as a comedy hub these last few years. With a League of Their Own forging a path to the heart of a great many men, it’s made stars of a great many of those who’ve appeared on it. Micky Flanagan is one those guests who’ve expertly combined panel show appearances with his stand up career to make him one of the biggest comedic stars in the UK.

Now, Micky will be returning to Sky 1 three years after his last series, Micky Flanagan’s Detour to France, with a new series entitles ‘The Micky Flanagan Detours’. The six part series (due to air in 2017) is a ‘comical polemic’ wherein Micky lets his mind wander through the past and present to explore the big themes in life. Is the mid-life crisis real? Why do Brits think of themselves as plucky underdogs? Can you offend a German, and, of course, does a leather waistcoat have any place in society?

News of the new series has sparked a wave of customer gratitude as fans chose to contact Sky to express their gratitude about the announce

Micky Flanagan said: “Two years ago I was asked by 7 Wonder and Sky to get back on my bike and make a TV show, I told them to f**k off and bought a dog. But then I got thinking… about serious stuff… the kind of stuff Adam Curtis or Huw Edwards would make a show about – and that’s what this series was meant to be, a series that would make people say ‘Aristotle, Sophocles… Flanagan’. Somewhere along the way however I ended up getting spanked by a dominatrix in Slough and dancing with gay disco terrorists in LA. So I guess this is my way of saying if you want a comprehensive, fair or balanced point of view, if you’re looking for the truth – watch Jeremy Kyle – but if you want to see a middle aged man dressed in short shorts plastering a wall with Eddie The Eagle – you know where to come.”

Adam MacDonald, Director of Sky 1 said: “We’re so chuffed to be welcoming Micky Flanagan back to Sky 1 as he explores the great themes of our time, and takes us on his journey through the inner workings of his mind covering despair, joy, owning a dog and dressing head to toe in leather. One thing is for certain – it will definitely have us all thinking, talking and laughing.”

7 Wonder Executive Director Mike Reilly said: “We are delighted to be teamed up with Sky and Micky once again. After working with Micky on his wine-fuelled butter-eating tour of France I didn’t think our crew’s health could withstand another shoot– but I am delighted to report that we all survived principle photography and that Micky is funnier and healthier than ever. It’s always a pleasure working with Micky, he has one of the sharpest minds in comedy and always surprises and delights his audience in equal measure.”

Sky Prepare Mystery Product Launch

There’s nothing like an enigmatic invitation to get the blood pumping, and Sky have used that knowledge to craft one of the most mysterious product invites of recent memory. In a note to journalists and industry experts, Sky have invited us to ‘Set your TV free’ and join them on the 18th of November for a special event. The only question is; what could Sky possibly be announcing? Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?

Whilst the invitation itself features only the aforementioned ‘Set your TV free’ tagline, there are a few potential answers to the question, based on rumours we’ve come across during the last year. Those rumours have swirled around one thing in particular – 4K.

Now, it’s no secret that Sky have been working on the technology to broadcast 4K content to compatible TV’s across the country. For the last two years, Sky have been testing out their systems, even going as far as to beam a live football match in 4K back to their headquarters to examine the viability of such a broadcast. Of course, Sky wouldn’t be the first pay TV Company in the UK to offer such a service, as BT launched their BT Sport Ultra HD channel earlier in the year.

The potential difference between a Sky Ultra HD channel and the BT effort may come from the way that customers receive it. BT make do with a system based upon streaming technology, which means that customers need very fast internet connections in order to view the stream, and that its image quality suffers from compression required to make it a viable option for most people.

Sky, on the other hand, could utilise their existing satellite broadcasting technology to beam down 4K images directly into the home, alleviating the need for super-fast broadband and ensuring video quality. The proof comes in the form of a test channel that’s being broadcast from the SES Astra satellite that Sky use in the UK to beam channels into your home. It’s been broadcasting 4K clips to homes, showing that it can be done with the technology already in place. It seems pretty likely that this kind of innovation would drive huge amounts of customers through the telephone numbers for Sky in order to sign up.

Should 4K be the announcement they’re planning to make, it won’t be on its own. The current Sky+ HD boxes aren’t capable enough to decode 4K images, and would have to see an update. Which, of course, brings us to the other set of rumours we’ve been hearing about: a new Sky + box. The firm have reportedly been hard at work on a next generation set top box, internally codenamed Project Ethan for a number of months. Now, it appears that to have taken on the name SkyQ, and it comes with a host of exciting new features.

SkyQ would, of course, fully support the new 4K service that Sky would offer (in whatever form it eventually takes), but also bring other functions to the table. Reports are suggesting that the hardware would ship with a Netflix like on-demand video library and a completely revamped user interface, which would intelligently learn what types of content you like and offer smart recommendations. Further to that, SkyQ would blend live content, recorded programmes and on demand content together and offer them in the same place, removing the jarring leap that currently occurs.

Of course, this is all just speculation, but with rumours coming to a head and that November 18th date rapidly approaching, we might safely expect that 4K and SkyQ are exactly what we see.

Sky Academy Study Shows Girls Have Less Confidence than Boys.

A YouGov study, commissioned by Sky Academy, has revealed what (anecdotally) many of us had suspected – girls have lower confidence than boys in almost all situations. Indeed, the only area where girls boasted higher confidence than boys was when using social media. The study, which took in the views over 1,600 young people and 600 parents from across the country showed that 60% of girls would describe themselves as confident, compared to 67% of boys, especially when faced with new and unfamiliar experiences.

For the Sky Academy, which through their Living for Sport initiative aim to get young people into sports, the news is unfortunate. Indeed, other studies have found that only 8% of 13 to 15 year old girls do the recommended amount of physical activity and that as girls confidence falls, so does their participation in sports, opening up a participation gap between the genders. Leading a Sky Academy Confidence Day in Sheffield, the Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill called for more to be done to encourage the nations’ young people, and girls especially, to take up sports as a means of boosting their confidence, wellbeing and health.

The day she hosted, and the study commissioned, all form part of the Sky Academy Confidence Month. It’s showcasing the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative that works with sports stars, schools and teachers across the country to build practical skills like teamwork, planning, resilience and communication. During that one day alone, over 300 young people aged between 11 and 18 tried sporting activities designed to help build confidence and self-belief. The event generated significant buzz on the sky customer services number 0844.

The troubling study also found that over two thirds of girls (66%) said that their confidence is influenced by how attractive or unattractive they feel, compared to just 46% of boys who made the same claim. Combined with the aforementioned link between low confidence and low participation in sports, it becomes quite clear that something must be done to help bring more young women into the world of sports, for both their confidence and health.On the day, Ennis-Hill said: “Confidence has played a big part in my success as an athlete. The enjoyment, focus and determination sport gave me as a young person was a huge part of developing my confidence and self-belief as I grew up. I am passionate about young people, particularly girls, taking part in sport and I am delighted to be part of Sky Academy’s Confidence Day. Sport can improve health, well-being and confidence while also teaching valuable life skills.”

Annette Du Bois, child confidence expert, said: “Sport can have huge benefits for girls of all ages, particularly when it comes to improving body confidence, fitness and general well-being. Modern society puts a wide range of pressures on young people to look a certain way and appear confident. However, we know inner confidence is something that a lot of young people struggle with, so encouraging young people to be active, play sport and be part of a team will help their development and build resilience.”

Sky Academy Conducts Social Media Research

Amongst their duties as one of Europe’s very largest pay TV companies, Sky engage in a surprisingly large amount of community outreach programmes. One such programme is the Sky Academy initiative, which brings together top celebrities from across culture and sport like David Beckham, Melvyn Bragg, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Davina McCall and Thierry Henry with education programmes designed to inspire and encourage young adults. Their work has already brought confidence to thousands of young people, and now, as part of ‘Confidence Month‘, they’ve partnered with YouGov to study the link between social media and confidence.

It’s no secret that social media has grown to become an integral part of young Briton’s lives, but this new study sheds some light on what purpose that media serves for them. Amongst its headline findings, it would that 32% of all social media users aged between 11 and 24 describe themselves as more confident on social media than in real life, and 42% claim so when they describe themselves as low on confidence inside themselves.

The research also shows that girls aged 11 to 24 are heavier users of social media, with 89% using compared to 82% of boys, whilst 36% of girls say that they’re more confident on social media than in person, compared to 28% of boys. Also, girls are more like to upload pictures of themselves onto social media (63%) compared to boys (41%). Part of this activity can be described as image management on behalf of social media users, who create idealised versions of themselves to present outwards.


Bullying also plays a surprisingly large part in social media, with more than one in five social media users aged between 11 and 13 saying that others have written mean things online about them, showing that there’s still much to be done in battling the causes of bullying, rather than simply the arena in which bullying takes place.

Rather than taking place on the Sky phone service, the poll was conducted online via YouGov with total sample sizes of 1638 for those aged between 11 and 24 and 677 of parents of children of those ages.

Alfie Deyes, vlogger and Sky Academy Ambassador comments: “I always try and remember that anybody who writes negative comments on social media can’t be 100% confident themselves. In order to build confidence, my advice is to surround yourself with positive people who bring out the best in you. There’s no point in wasting your time on people who aren’t there for you. Just block and ignore the haters, and surround yourself with the right people.”

Annette Du Bois, Confidence Coach and Sky Academy Ambassador, said: “It’s extremely important that young people know how to handle themselves online. Social media provides a false sense of security; the screen is a shield, hiding frailties, and while it allows young people to be more open online, they can’t replicate it offline. Because the sense of endorsement online is so fleeting, people share more daring and often untrue information in an attempt to gain the acceptance on social media that they can’t receive in the real world, and without knowing how to cope, it can be very easy for a young person to lose their self-esteem.”

Lucy Carver from Sky Academy added on the Sky phone: “Confidence plays a crucial role in helping young people succeed and unlock their potential, and it’s really important that young people feel confident, both in person, and on social media. Having worked with over a quarter of a million eight to 24 year olds so far, we know that by providing real experiences, Sky Academy builds skills which ultimately build confidence. It’s our aim to help one million young people by 2020.”

New Guest Stars Join Penny Dreadful

It’s fair to say that since Penny Dreadful premiered in 2014, it’s become something that both Sky and Showtime can be extremely pleased about. A firm favourite amongst cult TV fans and featuring one of the best casts on any TV programme, it’s spawned a whole fandom and won plenty of ratings for both channels. To date, there’s been 18 episodes across two series and pulled characters from The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula, Frankenstein and countless others, marrying them to a creepy, gothic aesthetic. Now, production is ramping up on the third season of the critically acclaimed hit, and there’s some exciting news about the actors and characters that will be helping to drive the programme forward in its third series.

Alongside existing stars Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper and Josh Hartnett, this season will see the return of Tony Award winning star Patti LuPone (American Horror Story), who will return in an all new, series regular role as Dr. Seward, an American therapist who treats Eva Green’s Vanessa with unusual methods. This season will also add Dr. Henry Jekyll to the lineup of literary characters who inhabit the world of the show, who will be played by Shazad Latif, who was last seen in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Spooks.

The third season will again feature nine episodes to air on Sky Atlantic in 2016, and will again bring a host of esteemed guest stars, including SAG Award nominee Christian Camargo (Dexter, The Hurt Locker, The Twilight Saga) as Dr. Alexander Sweet, a zoologist who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Canessa. Alongside him is Sam Barnett (2012, Jupiter Ascending) as Dr. Seward’s mysterious young secretary and Wes Studi (Hell on Wheels, A Million Ways to Die in the West) as Kaetenay, an intense and enigmatic Native American with a deep connection to Ethan who also becomes a new ally to Timothy Dalton’s Sir Malcolm. Finally, Jessica Barden (Far from the Madding Crowd, The Outcast) joins the cast as Justine, a young acolyte to Lily and Dorian Gray.

All in all, Sky have done a terrific job in attracting talent to the programme, though its reputation amongst the acting community generating tough, uncompromised characters and plotlines won’t have done any harm either. Whilst the first season won warm reviews from critics, the show truly found its footing in the second series with the A.V Club saying “On the strength of its cast, the beauty of its design, and the sheer joy it gets from its homages, it’s the sort of dreadful that’s mostly a delight.” and Entertainment Weekly stating: “The sly second season of Penny Dreadful finds its drama in characters trying to shake shameful pasts that won’t stop haunting them, and finds rich menace in cunning folk and shape-shifting spirits who make thralls and puppets out of our heroes, robbing them of authenticity and self-determination.”

Penny Dreadful is created, written and executive produced by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator) and executive produced by Logan’s Desert Wolf Productions, along with Oscar winner Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris. Sam Mendes is currently helming the newest James Bond picture after making classics like American Beauty and Pippa Harris is known for Revolutionary Road and Call the Midwife. This third series is part of Sky’s continued commitment to producing high quality programming for all their channels.