BSkyB Opens Movie Rental Service to Non-Subscribers

 Universal Pictures

LONDON – U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB will make its movie rental service available to people who aren't subscribing to its pay TV services, the company said on Wednesday.

The move could challenge online subscription VOD and VOD operators, such as Netflix, Amazon's LoveFilm and Tesco's Blinkbox, here in the U.K.

The TV company, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, will make 1,200 titles, including Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2 and The Hangover 3, available via an app on Internet-connected free-to-air TV service Youview and Roku set-top boxes.

In addition to the draw of fresh releases, the service will also offer archive titles, such as Top Gun, The Godfather and Austin Powers, drawn from BSkyB's deals with the Hollywood majors for a lower price.

Sky Store, which charges $5.80 (£3.49) for new releases and up to $3.20 (£1.99) for a classic, has already proved a success with Sky customers. The service saw more than two million rentals in the quarter ending Sept. 30, double the figure for the same period last year.

Sky Store director Nicola Bamford pointed out an often-cited problem with LoveFilm, which offers a DVD-by-mail service as well as streaming service. "With Sky Store, there are no late fees and no waiting for the post," she said. "We're delighted that millions more homes can access hundreds of box office smashes alongside best-loved movie classics. All you need is an Internet connection and away you go."

BSkyB's move sees the company again opting to offer one of its key business drivers -- in this case, movies -- to people who aren't subscribing to its pay TV services. Earlier this year, it started offering a $16 (£9.99) day pass to its sports coverage, including Premier League soccer, to non-Sky TV subscribers for the first time in its 20-year history.

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