'James Bond' Films to Return to U.K. Broadcaster ITV
LONDON -- U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV has inked an exclusive multiyear deal with MGM International Television Distribution to bring the James Bond film catalog, including Skyfall, back for free to TV viewers in the U.K.
All 23 films in the franchise will be available on ITV, the U.K.'s most watched commercial channel, and its family of networks. The news comes after pay TV giant BSkyB had nabbed the Bond rights in 2012.
The new multiyear deal marks a return of the Bond catalog to ITV, which had been the longtime home of the franchise. Financial terms weren't disclosed. The companies said that the films will be made available across the ITV, ITV2, and ITV4 channels.
ITV will also boast the free-to-air premiere of Skyfall, which is slated to appear on the channel in 2014.
The Daniel Craig starrer, from Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment, is the most successful Bond film of all-time, grossing over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
ITV director digital channels and acquisitions Angela Jain said Skyfall's success "proves not only the enduring popularity of the Bond franchise, but also its iconic status." She added: "I am delighted we have the entire Bond library of films on Britain's biggest commercial channel, a fantastic treat for all viewers."
"MGM is thrilled to partner again with ITV to bring James Bond home to U.K. audiences," said Chris Ottinger, president of international television distribution and acquisitions at MGM. "The Bond franchise is a jewel in the MGM library, and we are delighted to share the films with the viewers across the United Kingdom."
BSkyB's deal had secured all Bond films before Skyfall, and the pay TV giant, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, launched a dedicated channel to offer them all in 2012.
The library deal was for a year but Sky has Skyfall for the remainder of its pay-TV window, which runs until September 2014, after which ITV can air the film.