Sky Signs First Pan-European Movie Deal With Sony

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
The Sony deal includes such upcoming features as the new 'Ghostbusters' film.

The agreement will give Sky's operations in the U.K., Germany and Italy pay-TV rights to Sony features such as 'Angry Birds' and the 'Ghostbusters' reboot.

Sky has inked its first pan-European movie deal with a U.S. studio, picking up a slate of features from Sony Pictures across its footprint in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and German-speaking Europe.

The deal, which will include upcoming Sony features such as Angry Birds and the Ghostbusters reboot, is the first of its kind for the pay TV giant with a U.S. studio. Before the combination of the three Sky companies in a deal with 21st Century Fox, each of the Sky businesses had always negotiated deals for its territories separately. The group has already struck similar pan-European deals with HBO and Showtime, and management has long said it would look to renew movie output deals for all its territories.

Since merging the three European operations in 2014, Sky has moved to bring programming on all its channels closer in line with one another and to leverage its size to negotiate better terms on its licensing deals. In addition to new films, the agreement includes multiple Sony library titles, including the studio's Spider-Man and Men in Black franchises as well as classics such as Philadelphia and Lawrence of Arabia.

Amid the fast growth of online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, Sky has intensified its focus on delivering exclusive content. The Sony deal, which also includes exclusive VOD rights to all titles in the territories, comes ahead of Sky's latest earnings, which will be reported Thursday.

"Sky’s first pan-Euro movie deal  — with Sony — is the most recent validation of the three-way merger of Sky, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia," Peel Hunt analyst Alex DeGroote tells THR. "What this means is that Sky has "one-stop shop" deals with major Hollywood studios, rather than individual territory-by-territory negotiations. This should deliver cost synergies to Sky."

He adds: "For customers, the benefit remains both linear (eg through the TV) and through the likes of Sky Now on the tablet. Exclusivity to Sony product/releases is, meanwhile, a competitive advantage to Sky versus other competing platforms."

Sky shares were slightly higher in early London trading.