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Why the Pacific Belongs on Sky Movies

Sky caused a bit of a kerfuffle (it’s a word!) when they announced that The Pacific, the really rather excellent Second World War miniseries, would be airing on Sky Movies instead of Sky One – their television station. Queue the sounds of protest from various sources decrying the event as a television show which belongs on Sky’s primary television station – Sky One. However, Sky responded with the argument that Sky One simply isn’t equipped to broadcast a show like The Pacific, designed to air unedited and uninterrupted without overlays or advertisements. I’m going to take the unpopular path and argue that Sky were right: having watched the first two episodes, The Pacific should air on Sky Movies.

War over The Pacific?

Don’t get me wrong. It is undoubtedly a cynical money-making ploy from Sky. Sky One is available free to most homes in the UK. Sky Movies, on the other hand, is a subscription service. You have to pay to watch it. I know some people who are actually signing on to Sky Movies just to watch The Pacific. So it is a money-making ploy. But I’m going to argue that it isn’t that bad.

The BBC could afford to air Band of Brothers unedited and uninterrupted because they are a public-funded broadcaster. They get their money from the state and are essentially paid to provide a public service. Unlike our own state broadcaster, RTE, the BBC are efficient enough not to need advertising revenue to produce high quality television. Sky, on the other hand, don’t get public money. So they make money one of two ways: advertising on free-to-air channels like Sky One or off subscriptions from the public for Sky Movies.

The Pacific is (somewhat reasonably) being described as “the television event of the year”. I think it’s fair to say that it will certainly be hugely watched and discussed. Were it broadcasting on Sky, I imagine it would garner huge ratings. Sky couldn’t refuse to put commercial breaks in it. It has been suggested five minute blocks before and after the show, but I don’t think advertisers would (literally) buy that – viewers could watch the show without seeing any ads. So you’d need to stick them in the middle. And sticking them in the middle ruins the flow of the rather epic story and, being frank, spits the viewer right out of an amazing experience. I don’t like advertisements interrupting films on television, and this is nearly the same thing.

Furthermore, given the huge investment Sky has made in the series – which, in fairness, probably can’t be compared to the contribution BBC made to Band of Brothers, which was film in Europe, but still – I think it’s reasonable to offer it to subscribers as it was intended to be shown. It’s worth noting that it will be broadcast in the United States on HBO, a station which eschews advertisers by charging a subscription. Similar to the Sky Movies model, really.

So I can understand why it’s broadcast in that manner. and, being honest, I’m okay with it. Band of Brothers and The Pacific are two productions which have really narrowed the distance between what film and television can do. I mean it as a sincere compliment when i suggest that band of Brothers was exactly like a televised Saving Private Ryan. There is little to no difference in production values (save maybe the star caliber of the actors involved). Being entirely honest, I’m quite happy to watch on it on Sky Movies. It seems a natural fit.

5 Responses

  1. Eh, I miss both Sky One and Sky MOVIES. I had them at cable TV many years ago, but now our cable operator doesn’t broadcast them anymore :((

    • I’m sorry – Sky One is probably the best place in the UK to watch imports. They get most of the best ones. Their drama has been so-so, but that’s why you have the Beeb. And I love Sky Movies. Lazy Saturday, with nothing to do? Stick on Sky Movies!

  2. Don’t have Sky Movies; was disappointed to miss this one, hopefully it will be released on Sky One sometime, it looks great.

    • It is pretty awesome. As alluded above, watching on DVD may be the way to go if you don’t have Sky – you can set your own schedule and don’t have to wait weeks between episodes.

  3. Yep, I remember watching all the latest American shows on SKY ONE when I was a teenager, and plus watching STAR TREK every day at 6pm on their channel :)) Back in the past they had two movie channels SJY MOVIES and THE MOVIE CHANNEL, I don’t know whether they’ve merged the two into one or something else. I also like some of BBC dramas like MERLIN, ALMOST HUMAN…..

    Oh, and Darren, I’ve put you over in my blog roll to promote you a bit over at blogspot 😉

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