Everything you need to know about Sky Atlantic


Over the years, Sky have learned that in order to get customers interested in their service, they need to have a partially open door. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that every channel that Sky operated was exclusive to their own platforms.

Today, you’ll find Sky One, Sky Living, Sky Arts and countless other dedicated Sky channels appearing on services like Virgin Media and BT TV. That’s meant that more people than ever can enjoy amazing Sky programming, but there’s one channel which has remained entirely exclusive to Sky – Sky Atlantic.

Today, we enjoy some of the best TV from across the world on Sky Atlantic, but how did the channel get its start, who is it targeted at, and what should you be watching on the service right now? Let’s take a look.

A History of Sky Atlantic

During 2010, rumours began to circulate that Sky had negotiated a deal with HBO, creators of programmes like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, to bring their incredible programming to the UK.

The deal would cost an astonishing £150m and give Sky a five year period of exclusivity on all UK and Ireland broadcasts of HBO programming, as well as first look at any co-production opportunities.

Needless to say, this was a source of excitement. Until this point, HBO programming had never arrived in the UK in bulk, instead being purchased individually for UK broadcast. Deals like that had previously brought comedy hits like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Sex in the City to our shores.

Nevertheless, Sky didn’t immediately announce their intentions with this latest acquisition, instead waiting until the 25th of October, 2010 to announce that HBO programmes, along with a range of other world class drama, would form the basis of a new channel – Sky Atlantic.

Sky Atlantic HD would launch on Sky channel 108, a space which had been previously occupied by Sky3. Meanwhile, the SD version of the channel would reside at channel 222.

Atlantic launched on the 1st of February 2011 with a heavy emphasis on HBO programming. Other programming came from the likes of AMC, whose critically acclaimed drama Mad Men moved to the channel after the BBC were outbid.

What’s on Sky Atlantic?

If you’re not a Sky customer, there’s a good chance you haven’t had the opportunity to check out the amazing programming that Atlantic offers.

First up, there’s the amazing range of HBO programming. Launching off the back of Game of Thrones, Sky Atlantic have brought incredible programmes like Boardwalk Empire, Treme, Vinyl, Looking, Girls, True Blood, and much, much more.

In fact, you’d struggle to come up with a critically acclaimed American drama of recent years that wasn’t made by HBO.

All of that might imply that Sky Atlantic is just for drama, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Comedy hits like Curb your Enthusiasm, Veep, Last Week Tonight and Alan Partridge’s Mid-Morning Matters all offering huge laughs.

Indeed, it’s not just HBO programming that makes up the channel either. 60% of the programmes shown on Atlantic aren’t HBO originals. Instead, the channel is largely made up of home grown Sky programming like The Young Pope and The Last Panthers and programmes from other major American networks like Showtime, whose library of classics like Dexter, Homeland, Ray Donovan and Billions have all made a dent in the Sky Atlantic schedules of late.

In short, Sky Atlantic offers a huge range of comedy and drama programming from a surprisingly varied range of sources, both American and English. It’s so much more than just HBO UK.

Who is Sky Atlantic Aimed At?

Sky Atlantic has gained something of a reputation for gritty, realistic dramas in the mould of The Sopranos, The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. That’s not exactly true for everything on Atlantic, thanks to a strong comedy line-up, but it does go some way towards indicating the audience – Sky Atlantic is for adults.

With strong swearing, nudity and violence in a wide variety of Sky Atlantic shows, the channel is very clearly not aimed at the family market. As such, it’s important to put a child lock on the channel if you’re uncomfortable with your child being exposed to that kind of content.

What are the Best Sky Atlantic shows?

There’s no shortage of fantastic programmes on Sky Atlantic in 2016, here’s just a sample:

  • Westworld – From producer JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan comes this intense, bewildering and remarkable drama starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Thandie Newton. A futuristic theme park set in the Wild West is staff by artificial humans who let guests live out their wildest fantasies, but when the robots begin to change, the guests find themselves in a world where anything can happen…
  • The Young Pope – Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) is the youngest and first American pope in the history of the Church. He must establish his new papacy and navigate the power struggles of the closed and secretive Vatican. Dark and uncompromising, Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino’s drama is unmissable.
  • Fortitude – Now available for streaming is Fortitude, an incredible drama that takes place in the remote, icy town of Fortitude where nothing is as it seems. When a murder throws the town into chaos, it’s impossible to know who to trust. With a second series soon to launch, now’s the perfect time to enjoy Fortitude.