Sky, the European pay TV broadcaster, plans to double its spending on original programming as it seeks to ramp up its challenge to Netflix and Amazon, which currently dominate the UK video-on-demand market.

The company, which US cable giant Comcast acquired for £30bn last year, announced in a statement that Sky Studios, a new Europe-wide development and production unit, will spearhead the initiative.

It is expected that the budget allocated to original programming will more than double to £1bn a year by 2024, with the content to be distributed across Sky channels, NBC Broadcast and cable, Universal Pictures and other outlets.

The announcement of extra funding comes as Sky is enjoying success with its “Chernobyl” drama, a co-production with US network HBO that is currently rated the best TV series of all time on the IMDb online review website.

Sky’s “Riviera” thriller is also proving very popular and the broadcaster has had other successes, such as “Patrick Melrose”, which won a best actor Bafta for Benedict Cumberbatch.

The company said that Sky Studios will produce and develop original content across all genres, although it will concentrate on drama and comedy “with the emphasis firmly on quality”.

“This is a transformational development for us. Sky Studios will drive our vision to be the leading force in European content development and production,” said Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive.

“Our ambition is to make Sky Studios famous for quality content and a place where Europe’s top creatives will want to do their best work,” he added.

“Being part of Comcast enables us to increase our investment and to maximise the advantage and leverage of the Sky Group and our partners, NBCUniversal. This is a clear signal of Comcast’s belief in our commitment to producing the best original content in Europe.”

Commenting on the development, Dani Warner, a broadband and TV expert at price comparison website, told the Financial Times that “in content terms, this is the first real show of muscle from new owners Comcast”.

She added that broadcasters have struggled to compete with the financial clout of their online rivals, but that Sky’s announcement suggested that “seems to be changing”.

Sourced from Sky, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff