Pushing back against Netflix and its satellite, video-on-demand and pay-per-view rivals, Sky has signed a new movie deal with Warner Bros., which sees it granted exclusive access to movies six months after they end their run in theaters.
The agreement demonstrates Sky’s ability to win first window rights in the pay TV and pay-per-view markets, allowing it to show Warner Bros. titles on its Sky Movies channels but also on its VOD services and pay-per-view services on Sky Movies Box Office and Sky Store.
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This extends to the company’s services, which include its 11 dedicated Sky Movies channels and Sky Go; its TV service that is available on iOS, Android and other consumer devices. Movies will also be available to subscribers of Sky’s new subscription service Now TV (often touted as a Netflix killer), which can operate on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Currently, Now TV subscribers can sign up for a Sky Movies Pass, which offers over 600 movies from the major players such as Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal for £15 a month. The service already supports PC, Android, Mac, iPhone, iPad, YouView and Xbox.
Sky will gain exclusive access to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows and Wrath of the Titans, Man of Steel, The Hangover Part III and The Great Gatsby. The deal will also include access to classic titles including all Batman movies, The Matrix franchise, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and all Superman movies.
The movies will be available in HD and 3D where they are supported.
Today’s announcement will be a blow to Netflix, particularly after its CEO Reed Hastings declared he was prepared to be “aggressive” in bidding for films from Hollywood’s six biggest studios.
Hasting said that Netflix, which has already amassed over 1 million users in the UK and Ireland, would be able to win access to first window movie rights:
“We will be really aggressive in our bidding,” he said. “It may be that we win in the first round. It may be that it takes two or three years, but we’re incredibly confident that we will win the bidding for some of Pay 1 [the first window rights].”
It isn’t known if Sky outbid Netflix, or whether Netflix was involved in the bidding process for Warner Bros. movie rights. However, the films will be available on Sky’s services exclusively for more than a year, so Netflix will have to wait until 2013 to deliver access to some of of the more popular Warner Bros. titles.
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