Showtime Licenses Shows in Europe to UK’s Sky

CBS’ premium cable channel ratchets up its international presence

CBS’ premium cable network Showtime will license shows to the Sky Atlantic brand of channels of U.K.-based Sky PLC, making series like “Billions” available in five European countries this year.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed, other than to characterize the deal as long-term and exclusive. “Billions,” a new drama starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, will begin airing in May. Sky Atlantic will premiere new shows as soon as possible after U.S. airdate, but a Sky spokeswoman told TheWrap the timing will vary.

It’s the biggest international deal of its kind for Showtime, the company said, and comes as global reach emerges as a competitive necessity for television companies.

With the internet lowering barriers to demand for entertainment globally, Showtime rivals like Netflix and Time Warner’s HBO have been racing to expand their global reach. This month, Netflix launched in 130 countries to make it a global online TV network everywhere but China. HBO has widened its plans for its stand-alone online subscription option to countries like Spain.

CBS Global Distribution president Armando Nuñez called it the “most significant international deal in Showtime’s history.”

The deal — which spans the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy — includes all new and future Showtime series as well as on-demand availability of past shows. That includes the “complete box sets” of series like “Dexter” and “Nurse Jackie.”

Alongside scripted content, Sky also will have the option to Showtime-distributed unscripted shows, such as documentaries, late night and reality shows.

Premiere dates for all the programming may vary by country. Current rights agreements with other platforms will remain unchanged.

Sky said it has 21 million customers across Europe who can access Sky Atlantic, most as part of their subscription.

Sky Atlantic already licenses other high-profile content from US programmers like “True Detective” and “True Blood” from HBO and “Sons of Anarchy” from 21st Century Fox’s FX.