A few months ago a mysterious advert featuring Dustin Hoffman rattling on about great stories went to air, advertising Sky Atlantic was “coming soon”…
Well it is here, Sky Atlantic is a new channel which is free to all Sky subscribers (for the moment) and features HBO programming (with commercials of course) along with some other selected top American network dramas, most shows starting from the very first episode of the first season. I was pretty excited about it, I used to pay for HBO and Showtime in the states because I loved the shows so I was pretty excited that it was coming and I wouldn’t have to pay anything extra since I’m already a Sky subscriber.
Bringing HBO programming to the UK and releasing it to the masses (or at least the millions of Sky subscribers) presented a couple problems. Firstly, because HBO programming is paid for by subscriptions and not advertising, HBO shows are all made to run 30 to 60 minutes with no commercial interruptions. This makes for some strange run times, for example an episode of Boardwalk Empire with commercials is 73 minutes long. The other problem of course is the content, one of the big differences with premium channels like HBO and Showtime is that the content of the shows is much more “adult” with strong language, violence, drug use and scenes of a graphic sexual nature, but lets be honest thats part of the reason why we love HBO! Because of this these shows can’t start until after the watershed at 9pm.
Sky Atlantic has adapted to these problems well by featuring one program each weeknight starting at 9pm. During the day when HBO content isn’t suitable for little eyes and ears, other American shows like Lost and 24 are aired to fill the time. So far it seems to be working. The only problem is that everything seems to be starting at once, there are too many good shows and at least one every single night! Things like Six Feet Under and Battlestar Galactica that I always wanted to watch but kind of came in half way through I can now start watching from the beginning. Luckily I’ve got Sky+ so I can set the shows to record so I’m not missing anything (and I can fast forward through the commercials which makes a 73 minute show much more tolerable) but after less than two weeks on the air my DVR is already filling up quickly with Sky Atlantic shows!
I’m really enjoying Sky Atlantic so far, I’ve caught up on new shows like Boardwalk Empire and I’m discovering some new ones I never knew I wanted to watch. I just really hope that it stays free to Sky subscribers, my fear is that they are offering it for free now with plans to get us hooked on the shows and then make it a premium channel. I guess time will tell but for the time being, I’m tuning in!