YouTube executive and former Fremantle boss Cécile Frot-Coutaz has been named CEO of Sky Studios, the heavy-hitting production and development arm for Sky.
Frot-Coutaz takes the reins from current chief executive Gary Davey, who launched Sky Studios in 2019. The long-time Sky executive announced his retirement in December, and will be stepping down later this year following a transition period.
Currently head of YouTube in EMEA and formerly CEO of super-indie Fremantle, Frot-Coutaz will sit on Sky’s group executive and will begin in the post in September 2021. The executive was at Fremantle for more than 20 years before stepping down in March 2018 for the YouTube role. She began at the Google-owned platform in 2019.
As CEO, Frot-Coutaz oversees the funding, development, production and commissioning teams for scripted Sky Originals, which are a major priority for the Comcast-backed pay-TV operator, which serves 24 million customers across Europe.
Frot-Coutaz will also take charge of Sky Studios’ global portfolio of production companies, which includes Blast! Films, Jupiter Entertainment, True North and “Great British Bake Off” producer Love Productions. As CEO, her remit also includes Sky Studios Elstree, the state-of-the-art film and TV studios just north of London that is set to house 13 sound stages and will open next year.
Dana Strong, group chief executive of Sky, said: “Cécile is a global leader in content and entertainment and has the bold vision and unique mix of experience needed to take Sky Studios to the next level of becoming a European production powerhouse. She is perfectly suited to lead Sky Studios as we ramp up our investment in original content and look ahead to cameras rolling at Sky Studios Elstree next year.”
Frot-Coutaz added: “Sky is a company that I have always admired as a content maker, as a partner and as a consumer. Like the rest of the industry I have witnessed the launch of Sky Studios just over two years ago and have seen the ambition and speed by which the organisation has grown. I could not pass up the opportunity to lead the studio through its next phase of growth and look forward to getting started later this year.”
In 2019, nine of the top 10 programs on Sky channels in the U.K. were Sky Originals. Three of the four series nominated for best drama series at this year’s BAFTA TV Awards are Sky Originals, including “Gangs of London,” “I Hate Suzie” and “Save Me Too.”
Last year, 29 Sky Originals were shown on 15 different networks and platforms in the U.S., including “Britannia” on EPIX, “A Discovery of Witches” and “Gangs of London” on AMC, “Brassic” on Hulu, “Devils” on The CW, “I Hate Suzie” on HBO Max, plus “Intelligence,” “Code 404,” “Save Me” and “Hitmen” on Peacock.
Upcoming projects for Sky Studios across Europe include “The Midwich Cuckoos,” starring Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley; “Die Wespe,” a German comedy starring Florian Lukas; and “Alfredino,” a moving series that charts the Italian story of Alfredo Rampi, 40 years on. The outfit is now ramping up its in-house productions across all markets, including “Blocco 181” in Italy, a collaboration with Italian rap star Salmo; and “The Rising,” the first series produced entirely in-house by Sky Studios in the U.K.