We've put this together to give you a quick briefing on how commissioning works here at Sky.
Sky is different to other broadcasters because we are a subscription business – we create television that is worth paying for.
The biggest difference is that, because we are all about quality and providing something that Free-To-Air TV doesn't, we commission fewer projects, and have a much leaner team than other broadcasters. In turn, this means we only arrange meetings to discuss ideas we love, that have the potential to be developed and made for our channels.
The big question, then, is how to get an idea going at Sky.
Simply email the relevant genre teams with your initial ideas, contact details can be found below. We don’t accept scripts or ideas from the general public. For members of the general public with good ideas, we suggest you contact an agent or production company about it so that they can help you develop it for us.
We promise to acknowledge ideas within 48 hours of them being sent in and then reply to them as soon as possible. This can take up to 4 weeks for entertainment and arts and 6 weeks in scripted. If we like the idea, we will then ask you in for a meeting. Meetings start on time and don’t last hours. We know you’re all as busy as we are. We don’t have slots to fill like other broadcasters, we are making pay television, so these are tent pole pieces specifically for our customers, and they are all different so they don’t fit a tariff model.
We hope you have found this briefing helpful, have a read of the rest of this page, where each genre head has run through the tone of their area, and what type of things they are looking for.
Thanks so much
Zai Bennett Director of Programmes, Sky Entertainment UK & Ireland
Before emailing the relevant genre team with
your proposal, please ensure you have read and agree with the Terms and
Conditions found at the top of
Sky 1 is our blockbuster channel and broadcasts shows of a massive scale. Content is creative and ambitious across entertainment, factual entertainment comedy and drama. It places a premium on action, laughter, big hearted emotion and energy. A place where you can find relaxing or pulsating content leaving you feeling exhilarated.
Sky Atlantic is the home of world class storytelling. Sky Atlantic original drama is cinematic, thought provoking and creatively ambitious. As well as providing the best US drama from HBO and Showtime. It features the biggest International talent on both sides of the camera to bring entertaining serialised stories to our customers at scale.
Sky offers kids the very best in entertainment with linear channels from Viacom , Turner and Disney as well as 4,500 episodes available on demand and a dedicated Sky Kids App. New shows therefore have to stand out and make an impact. We commission a small number of original shows every year for our on demand platforms and we look for ideas that are just like kids – surprising, playful, curious and disruptive.
The drama team look for 6-8 shows per year to play across Sky Atlantic and Sky One. Across both channels, we seek out shows that are authored, brave and unconventional. We can be funny, sad, light, dark, action-led, relationship-orientated or even fantasy-based. What we can never be is ordinary, bleak or predictable. Memorable characters and heartfelt emotion underpin everything we do. We look hard for dramas that confidently stand out from the crowd and create an impact.
The simple metric for scripted comedy is - make us laugh. Our customers expect shows that are arrestingly funny. We're after surprising shows that deliver great performers and brilliantly memorable characters. The best comedy is relatable, but never predictable. Our commissioning team is extremely collaborative but we have high standards; Sky is the place where the finest comedy performers, writers, directors and producers can do their very best work. If you can bring our customers premium talent, premium laughs and premium production values, we'll take care of the rest.
Our chief area of focus is Sky 1. Quite simply we're looking for two types of post-watershed show, and comedy for Sky Arts:
Hour long comedy-drama at 9pm. We've had great success here with titles such as Stella and Mount Pleasant. We're building on that. We want big comic engines at the heart of our shows that easily sustain an hour and leave you gagging for more. Don't be afraid of scale - both on screen and in premise.
Half hour narrative comedy at 10pm. We can go edgier here, don't be afraid to push boundaries, if we're not talked about we're not succeeding. We don't have to build our 10pm pieces around traditional family units. In fact the more you can subvert and surprise the better. Big talent is always good but we'll listen to inventive casting thoughts too.
Comedy on Sky Arts - We are looking for single half hour comedies with a foot firmly in the arts and culture camp. We've enjoyed success here with the award winning 'Psychobitches', 'A Young Doctor's Notebook' and our highly acclaimed recent series 'Urban Myths' of which we're likely to do more.
Send solicited scripts/treatments - cc-ing Nicole.email@example.com - to
Jon Mountague – Head of Comedy Jon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Morwenna Gordon – Commissioning Editor Morwenna.email@example.com
Our role for Sky 1 is to drive volume (no sense in doing a show if not enough people watch it) and talkability. Our shows need to be notable in some way – coming from somewhere authentic, connecting with audiences and driving conversation. We want to be grown up, and appeal to everyone.
We are focussing on two areas:
Big scale entertainment events: this could be a studio event or a location event. It could be something competitive, it could be a “reality”.
Factual entertainment series: again scale and ambition is important. We need some new worlds to explore in new ways. These shows should feel cinematic – and maybe taking film tropes as a starting point is a helpful beginning.
We aren’t going to be doing talent-led shows in the short term as we really want to focus on the above. Nor will we be doing single docs or ob-doc series (unless you can turn these into fact ent event pieces).
Tone-wise – A League of Their Own still stands tall as the beacon of tone on Sky 1 – obviously no sense in aping it but that sense of being the funniest folks in the pub is often spot on.
Basically – brilliant access to the very best people and places in the arts.
We don’t want ideas that are too ‘TV construct’ as we aren’t looking for formats as such at the moment. Programmes on specific subject or genres seem to work best so don’t be afraid to be a bit niche. Our audience is a little older (45/55 plus) so worth bearing that in mind. We can cover all art genres and we have a couple of strands that can support single films – our ‘Passions’ strand where notable people discuss other notable people or art movements they admire; and our ‘Rock Docs’ strands really need to be unique tales of the best artist in contemporary music.
For all submissions please contact one of the Entertainment and Arts Commissioning Editors:
Director of Sky Arts and Head of Entertainment: Philip.Edgar-Jones@sky.uk
We commission for kids aged 2 – 9 and we split that audience into three distinct areas: 2–4, 4-7 and 7-9 year olds although some shows, like Morph, can stretch across those age groups. We already have a lot of action adventure, toon comedy and US tween/teen dramas so won’t be commissioning in those areas. We also have a lot of pre-school shows so our focus when we commission is usually aimed at the four and overs. Format is flexible, we have commissioned episodes from 90 seconds up to 12 minutes long but we don’t tend to commission long runs. We are also looking for standalone TV specials.
Submissions can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programme proposal terms and conditions
This policy applies to proposals, ideas, concepts and suggestions for programmes ("Proposals") submitted to Sky plc ("Sky"). This policy is in place to avoid any misunderstandings as to what are Sky's rights and obligations with respect to each Proposal and the submitter (defined as "You" or "Your" in the rest of these Terms and Conditions).
Please read the following terms (“Terms”) before submitting a Proposal. By submitting a Proposal you agree with Sky to the Terms and that such Terms shall apply to the submission of your Proposal.
1. RECEIPT OF PROPOSAL. Sky will receive and consider Your Proposal only if You have submitted Your Proposal in accordance with these Terms and the instructions provided by Sky on its Commissioning and Ideas submission web page.
2. YOUR OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPOSAL: You warrant that the Proposal is Your own original work, that You have not copied or derived any portion of it from any other person or entity, and that You have the complete legal right to submit it to Sky and doing so will not infringe any third party's rights or give rise to any claim.
If Sky decides to develop and/or commission Your Proposal, the parties will negotiate and sign an agreement or agreements which will include standard industry terms including additional warranties and an indemnity.
3. WRITTEN FORM: Sky will only accept Proposals in written form submitted in accordance with Sky's online submission process but You can attach taster video and audio files (subject to file size limitations). If a Proposal is submitted which is not suitable for the receiving commissioning team they may, in rejecting it, suggest a more appropriate commissioning team to consider it, for you to submit your idea to.
4. DISCLOSURE NOT CONFIDENTIAL. You acknowledge that Sky may disclose the Proposal to its employees, and possibly to others in order to evaluate it. It is understood that no confidential relationship is entered into or created by any reason of the submission, receipt and/or consideration of the Proposal by Sky or by reason of any oral or written discussions, if any, between Sky or its employees and/or its contractors and You.
5. OTHER IDEAS. Sky, its employees and contractors develop many ideas of their own for the development of programmes, films and other audio-visual content, some of which may be similar to Your Proposal. You acknowledge that an idea that is new to You may not be new to Sky, or similar or identical ideas may be conceived independently by Sky, its employees and contractors and other people who submit ideas and Proposals to Sky.
6. PROPOSAL NOT RETURNED. Sky does not assume any obligation to return the Proposal to You. Therefore, You should keep a copy of Your Proposal, as well as a copy of these Terms and Conditions. Sky is not obliged to return physical materials (including but not limited to tapes, electronic files, scripts and DVDs) submitted with Your Proposal and it is Your sole responsibility to keep duplicates of any materials submitted to Sky.
7. OFFENSIVE MATERIAL: Sky reserves the right to delete any Proposals which are judged offensive, defamatory or libellous. Sky also reserves the right to automatically reject a Proposal which is substantially incomplete.
8. NO COMPENSATION. No agreement for compensation shall be implied from Sky's receipt, consideration or review of Your Proposal.
9. NO PREJUDICE. Any consideration of Your Proposal by Sky does not waive Sky's right to contest the validity of the copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights in the Proposal.
10. RELEASE AND LIABILITY. You expressly release Sky from any claim action or demand arising out of or in connection with the Proposal or these Terms and Conditions. Sky cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any damage, loss, injury or disappointment suffered by You as a result of Your submission of the Proposal.
11. FURTHER ASSURANCES. You agree to execute all documents, take all actions and assist Sky as required to implement these Terms and Conditions and to give full effect to the intention of the parties.
12. OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS. The terms and conditions of use of the website shall be in incorporated by reference into these Terms and Conditions. Sky may amend these Terms and Conditions from time to time by amending them online.
13. HOW SKY USES YOUR INFORMATION INCLUDING THE PROPOSAL. Sky shall process any personal data submitted by You in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Sky will use Your personal details for the purpose of tracking and considering Proposals, administration and keeping Sky's contact records accurate and up to date. In addition Sky will archive Your proposal if it is rejected for the purposes of auditing Sky's proposal review process.
14. GOVERNING LAW. These Terms and Conditions, and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with laws of England and Wales. You irrevocably agree that the courts of England shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute or claim that arises out of or in connection with these Terms and Conditions.