In mid-May, we reported that Sky was set to strike a deal to buy upcoming series of Glee. Now, as E4 prepares to air the season two finale (tonight, 9:00pm), Sky confirms it has dipped into its increased budget for US shows to make the musical comedy drama its latest transatlantic acquisition.
Sky’s deal with Fox is thought to be worth as much as £500,000 per episode, compared with the £100,000 paid by Channel 4 (which owns E4) for the first two series, and gives the satellite broadcaster exclusive rights in Britain to show season three and all future series.
Sky1’s director of programmes, Stuart Murphy, said: “Glee has been nothing short of a phenomenon and we’re thrilled to secure the future of the show for our customers with this life-of-series deal.
“This deal is part of a long-term commitment to investing in programming, both originated and acquired.”
The agreement will come as a blow to Channel 4, with Glee E4’s most popular import to date. Audiences of up to 2.5 million tuned in to watch a mix of arch comedy drama and musical numbers, often involving big-name guest stars.
Glee is the latest American show Sky has captured from a UK competitor, following its acquisition of season five of slick 60s drama Mad Men, which ran for the previous four series on BBC4.
While the news will disappoint those Gleeks unwilling or unable to fork out for a Sky subscription, the good news for the rest is that they won’t have to wait too long to watch series three. E4 screened the first two seasons (in 2010 and 2011) from January, but the third will begin on Sky1 this autumn, broadcasting only days after being shown in the US.
Prior to the new series, Sky1 will show The Glee Project, a 10-part talent show, offering as a prize a guest-starring role across several episodes of series three of Glee.
The first edition of The Glee Project premiered in the US yesterday, with 12 hopefuls - whittled down from 40,000 entrants - competing for the role.