Sky Axes The Zone for New Box Sets Channel


Sky is ditching its fantasy/sci-fi channel The Zone for a more “holistic” approach to premium drama programming that will include a new binge-viewing service devoted to box sets.

Sky Box Sets will launch August 1 with a range of first-run and popular drama and comedy series.

“Sky Box Sets will feature an impressive line-up,”  Travis Dunbar, Sky’s Director of Entertainment Programming, promises.

“It will include exclusive first-run drama series such as Bellevue starring Anna Paquin, American Gothic starring Antony Starr and Mary Kills People starring Jay Ryan – iconic Kiwi actors making it big in Hollywood and flying the flag for NZ.

“The new channel will also have encore screenings of critically-acclaimed dramas such as Fortitude, 11.22.63 and Outcast.”

Also on the schedule are Queen of the South, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin and Pure.

Dunbar says that the channel’s development has been months in the making and is in direct response to Sky customers’ clear appetite for premium drama and comedy series.

“The current ‘golden age of television’ shows no sign of abating … The long-form narrative has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years with viewers becoming invested in television and experiencing it like never before.

“While other broadcasters continue to focus on the reality genre, Sky has always been ahead of the curve in terms of premium drama content – firstly with the launch of SoHo and now with Sky Box Sets, which offers the opportunity to watch an entire season of a series, in HD, from 7.30pm every night.”

The Zone will vanish from June 30. As part of a more holistic strategy surrounding content placement, Dunbar says The Zone’s programming will screen across a number of Sky’s channels including Jones!, Jones! too, the Box and Sky Box Sets.

Unlike SoHo, Sky’s newest channel will on the pay TV services basic tier, so won’t cost subscribers extra.

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10 Responses to “Sky Axes The Zone for New Box Sets Channel”

  1. Hopefully we still get to watch Dark Matter, Killjoys and The Strain on another channel.

  2. Yes, I expect first-run shows on The Zone will pop up on The Box or Box Sets but some of its back-catalogue fare probably will be casualties of the changeover.

  3. Guess sci-fi is pushed to the bottom of the list again.

  4. Sky is obviously trying to compete with Netflix :)

  5. It doesn’t rate badly compared to The Box or Sport (or UKTV). And marginally ahead of its popular Jones channel. Interesting that sci-fi does get knocked down the list – maybe a dearth of content (SyFy has struggled in the US). Question – does something else get HD’d? Will The Box go HD, Box Sets in HD?

  6. You would like to think the initiative spearheaded a long overdue HD upgrade of Sky’s entertainment channels but I doubt it. Sky Box Sets will be in HD but it’s not yet clear if it will be 1080i or the near-HD resolution of the channel it’s replacing, The Zone.

  7. So these box sets will be viewable from 7:30pm nightly? What about the rest of the day? How do people select the box sets they wish to view? Do you have to watch the box sets Sky decide you’re going to watch? It’s hardly allowing the customer to choose content. I can see idea working in an online situation (that’s why Netflix works so well) but watching the content Sky decide … I can’t see how that would be very appealing?

  8. Yes, Rosco, it’s an intriguing concept for linear TV. It’s essentially a second-tier SoHo crossed with Netflix. You can binge-watch but only according to what Sky schedules. It will be a 24-hour channel, with 7.30 being the kick-off time for each day’s new rotation of content.

  9. I’m a little confused as to how this works. So a new series starts at 7:30pm each night, what if it is 10 episodes long and goes until 4am in the morning? Are viewers expected to record it?

  10. Essentially, yes. I will post more details shortly.

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