Sky1 boss wants viewers to feel the love

Sky1 boss Stuart Murphy has said that the channel must secure more programming which viewers will "absolutely love", reports The Daily Telegraph.

Murphy was previously controller of BBC Three but left to work in the content production industry, including stints at RDF and TwoFour. He joined Sky in May as controller of Sky1, Sky2 and Sky3 to replace Richard Woolfe, who left to join Five.

Sky1 commands the majority of investment from his budget, with a mix of high profile US shows and also UK-produced commissions. Murphy told the newspaper that it is "really important" for the channel to broadcast content that "people absolutely love". He also pointed to the quality of programming on US network HBO, including The Sopranos and Sex And The City, as his "editorial aspiration".

"I don't want Sky1 to be a generalist channel that has lots of things that people quite like," he added. "I'd rather it has fewer things, but things that people love and are absolutely obsessed about."

Murphy has already triggered a shift in Sky1 programming policy, with a greater focus on big budget acquisitions, including talent show Just Dance which will air from January 2010 with a reported £600,000 budget per episode.

"So we're not doing [shows] at £100,000 an episode, we're doing them at X Factor level," he explained.

"I would love us to have a really big show. You can certainly grow some, so that's part of what we want to do. Having something that's exclusive to pay TV that's a really big property would be fantastic for us."

In an effort to draw in more subscribers to the Sky TV platform, Murphy is also keen to attract a greater number of female customers.

"Sky1 is definitely big family entertainment, but it has to get women as well. Internally, we talk about 'handbrake women'," he said, referring to females who veto the household purchase of Sky due to their lack of interest in the news, sport and movies content on offer.

"These are women who, when they go into Currys, say: 'What else is on the Sky platform?' We've got Bones on Sky1 that skews female for us, we've got Lost."

In Sky's recent financial result statement for the 12 months to June 30, it was revealed that the Sky HD service added 534,000 customers net over the year, taking it to a subscriber base of 1.313m.

Describing HD takeup as a "big thing" for Sky1, Murphy indicated that he will be commission more programmes "that look much better in HD" in the future.

He added: "I've commissioned a big nature series with Luke Gamble, with lots of helicopter shots and African locations. In HD, nature looks unbelievable."