Sky has signed an exclusive deal to screen new content from HBO, the cult US channel behind a fantasy series being shot in Northern Ireland, to bring in new customers in the UK.
The deal will give Sky the rights to show series including Martin Scorsese's highly anticipated Boardwalk Empire and Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman and written by David Milch, responsible for HBO's epic Western series Deadwood.
The coming series of established HBO shows, such as Entourage and Big Love, will also be available only on Sky.
Game of Thrones, a HBO adaptation of a series of fantasy novels, is being filmed on location in Northern Ireland after a pilot was filmed in locations around the province last year.
Sky said the move was part of its “commitment to invest in standout content that differentiates the pay-TV experience and creates more reasons for customers to subscribe”.
It is a “multi-year” contract, but Sky would not confirm the size of the deal. Insiders said talk the contract was worth £150m was wide of the mark.
Tim Westcott, senior TV analyst at Screen Digest, said: “HBO has a great track record. The hallmark of what it's done is to pick creative people and give them artistic freedom. It also spends a lot of money.” He said its content, which also includes Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and Band of Brothers, has been popular in the UK
“The upcoming shows will give Sky kudos with viewers,” Mr Westcott said.