Game On – After Games Over?

New Zealand at last looks set to get its HD equivalent of BSkyB’s Sky Atlantic and Foxtel’s Showcase – which is great news for those bewildered by the likes of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Treme not having been picked up here for free-to-air broadcast.

Just this week Will Harvie, the editor of The Press’s TV and technology magazine, The Box, bemoaned the absence of Treme from our screens.

“I’m just back from a month-long vacation in North America during which I watched some great television,” he wrote in Tuesday’s issue.

“Top of the list was Treme, a genuine and irresistible series about the people of New Orleans recovering from Hurricane Katrina …

“Unfortunately, I’m not aware that any New Zealand network will be bringing Treme to our screens. Season two started in April in the US and a third season has been commissioned.

“NZ television people: BRING US THIS SHOW.”

Well, Will, it seems they’re about to — along with a slew of other top cable fare that Sky is believed to have been quietly stockpiling for a new HD channel, one of two it will launch hard on the sprigged heels of the Rugby World Cup games. understands there will be a tie-up between Sky and US giant HBO, although it’s unlikely such a channel would be exclusively HBO.

It could be used to showcase premium cable series that are thought too niche to air in primetime on TVNZ or TV3.

Many of these are HBO sourced, which means they’ve been for sale on the open market (although HBO is owned by Warner Bros, its product is not part of TVNZ’s mega-output deal with WB).

Typical of what we could expect to see are: new HBO properties like Game of Thrones and Treme; the next season of Boardwalk Empire; re-runs of HBO classics like The Wire (albeit not in HD), Deadwood and The Sopranos; telemovies and miniseries like Too Big to Fall, John Adams and Mildred Pierce; and possibly the HD showcasing of HBO series that already air on FTA, but in SD, like Prime’s True Blood and TV2’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Also expect a raft of lower-profile HBO series yet to screen here, like The Ricky Gervais Show, In Treatment, How to Make It in America, Bored to Death (which is out on DVD/Blu-ray) and Eastbound & Down, season two of which was meant to have been released this week on disc but has been delayed indefinitely — presumably because it will now air first on Sky’s new channel.

There also could be scope to screen in HD non-HBO fare on the channel, like the US re-make of the Danish crime drama, The Killing, which Sky will air ahead of TV3; Camelot, which none of the FTA channels has picked up; and series that air only in SD on other Sky channels, like The Box’s Dexter, and Prime’s Weeds and Mad Men.

Bear in mind, none of this has yet been confirmed by Sky: it’s informed speculation based on behind-the-scenes programming deals and the obvious potential for Sky to capitalise on subscriber appetite for HD fare that goes beyond sports and movies, and which FTA TV doesn’t deem populist enough for primetime.

Stay tuned.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply