BSkyB, Disney Extend U.K. Film Deal, Will Launch Sky Movies Disney

BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch is "delighted" about the collaboration.
BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch is "delighted" about the collaboration.
 Courtesy of BSkyB

LONDON -- U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB and Disney have agreed to extend a movie output deal, marking the company's fourth renewal with one of the big six Hollywood studios.

Under the agreement, BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 39 percent stake, will keep first subscription pay TV rights to Disney films, including Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm releases, and get expanded rights on various platforms. 

The two companies also will create a new channel called Sky Movies Disney as a home for new and classic Disney movies in the U.K. and Ireland. The network marks the first time that Disney has been involved in a co-branded linear movie channel anywhere in the world, the partners said. 

The agreement will further strengthen the film offerings of the U.K. pay TV giant amid the growth of Netflix and LoveFilm.

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Financial and other terms of the new content deal weren't disclosed. As part of the pact, BSkyB also has agreed to continue to carry such Disney networks as Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior, including a new HD version of Disney Junior. 

Streaming video service Netflix also has been looking to strike movie studio deals for its U.K. service, but BSkyB has recently sealed similar deals with exclusive windows with Time Warner's Warner Bros., NBCUniversal's Universal Pictures and Sony.

In the U.S., Netflix recently outbid Starz for a Disney film output deal. Under that deal, starting in 2016, new Disney titles will be available on Netflix in the pay TV window. 

BSkyB and Disney have had a 24-year relationship in the U.K. The new network that is part of the latest iteration will launch late next month. Sky Movies Disney will show such recent Disney/Pixar hits as Brave and Wreck-It Ralph in their first pay TV window. 

New movies will be available on Sky Movies Disney around six months after they have ended their run in cinemas. They will be exclusive to Sky Movies for at least a year until they become available on other subscription services, including Netflix and Amazon.com's LoveFilm. Future releases covered by the deal include Oz: The Great and Powerful, Monsters University and The Lone Ranger

The library of classic Disney films covered by the agreement includes Bambi, Pinocchio, Finding Nemo, Cars, A Bug’s Life, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and National Treasure.

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3D films will be available on BSkyB's 3D network. All of the new and classic movies will also be available to view on demand and on the go via Sky Go, which allows users to access content on smartphones, tablet and laptops.

Now TV, BSkyB's new standalone Internet TV service, also will offer access to the Disney titles to subscribers of the Sky Movies monthly package.  

BSkyB also will launch a dedicated Disney section on its on-demand service, offering hundreds hours of catch-up and library TV shows.

"In launching these new initiatives, we are underlining Disney and Sky's shared goal: bringing high-quality, creative entertainment to audiences in the U.K. and Ireland," said Diego Lerner, president of the Walt Disney Co. EMEA. "The ways in which people watch TV and movies have changed immeasurably in the past 20 years, but consumers always seek out Disney's great stories and memorable characters."

“The launch of Sky Movies Disney is great news for our customers and builds on the strong relationship that Sky and Disney have enjoyed for more than 20 years," aid BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch. "We’re delighted that an entertainment company of Disney’s international stature has chosen to work with Sky on its first co-branded linear movie channel. This is a world-first collaboration that will excite millions of families and further strengthen our market-leading movies service."

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Added Ian Lewis, director of Sky Movies: "Disney’s movies are loved by all ages and generations, so we’re delighted to be bringing this new channel to millions of families at no extra cost. Sky Movies Disney will be the home of new and classic Disney and Disney/Pixar movies and will offer all new titles at least a year before other TV channels or subscription services."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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