U.K.'s Blinkbox Takes Issue With Netflix 'Hunger Games' Claims

Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth

Hemwsworth plays Gale Hawthorne, who met Katniss due to a mine explosion which killed both of their parents.

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After Netflix touted its online rights as exclusive for Britain, blinkbox's CEO says his firm has offered the film to "our customers in the U.K. (on planet Earth)" since September.

LONDON -- U.K. video-on-demand operator blinkbox.com, owned and operated by the world's third-largest retailer, Tesco, has issued a formal and humorous response to claims by Netflix that it has secured The Hunger Games exclusively online in the U.K.

Blinkbox CEO Michael Comish has made public a letter to rival Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos in which he points to the fact that his streaming service has been offering the movie since Sept. 3, 2012, to customers on a pay-per-view basis.

Earlier in the day, Sarandos said Netflix was "thrilled to be the exclusive online home for The Hunger Games in the U.K. and Ireland," saying it would be available to members of his service from March 3.

Netflix is the only subscription-based streaming service to offer the film, thanks to the deal.

But Comish fired back: "We read in your press release today that you are ‘thrilled’ that Netflix is now the 'exclusive online home' for The Hunger Games in the UK and Ireland. Actually, our customers in the U.K. (on planet Earth) have been able to enjoy The Hunger Games since 3rd September 2012 and continue to do so. All without the need for a subscription. Now that’s thrilling."

Comish, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, went on to list other "thrilling things that have happened here on Earth since The Hunger Games went live on blinkbox," including such events as the re-election of President Barack Obama, Kate Middleton's pregnancy and the Pope's resignation.

Comish signs off "What a busy 6 months" and ends the letter "all the best." He also tweeted it.

The response is an indication of the growing competition in the U.K. marketplace.