Warner Bros., U.K.'s BSkyB Strike New Broad-Based Film Pact

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Warner Bros.

Dark Knight Bruce Wayne Catwoman Dancing - H 2012

UPDATED: The multi-year deal, for which Netflix was also in the running, extends their partnership and will give subscribers exclusive access to films six months after their theatrical run.

British pay TV giant BSkyB's Sky satellite TV service and Time Warner's Warner Bros. have struck a broad-based new film deal that extends their content partnership and will see them collaborate on the distribution of Warner Bros. movies across a range of platforms and "work more closely on the release and marketing of films in the U.K. and Ireland."

Warner Bros. also has a second-window film deal with Amazon.com's online video service LoveFilm in the U.K. Netflix was also in the hunt for the Warner Bros. content as its management team has vowed to at least evaluate programming opportunities internationally, including in the U.K. and Ireland where it launched at the start of the year, just like in the U.S. Netflix has vowed to win at least one big film output deal with a major Hollywood studio for the U.K.

"We are always a bidder, but not always a buyer," a Netflix spokesman said. "We evaluate each studio deal against the value we believe it will provide to our members."

Under the multi-year Warner-BSkyB agreement, financial details of which weren't disclosed, Sky Movies will be the first subscription service in the U.K. and Ireland to show current Warner movies, such as the U.K.-produced Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows and Wrath of the Titans, as well future releases, such as Man of Steel, The Hangover Part III and The Great Gatsby, around six months after they end their theatrical run.

They will also become available at the same time on BSkyB's new online TV service Now TV via its Sky Movies monthly pass. "Once on Sky Movies, these films will be available on the service exclusively for more than a year," the partners said. 
"The new distribution agreements span the first subscription pay TV and pay-per-view windows, enabling Sky to exhibit Warner Bros.’ titles on its Sky Movies channels and video-on-demand services, and on a pay-per-view basis via Sky Movies Box Office and Sky Store," they emphasized.
Also under the deal, Sky Movies customers will have exclusive access to a wide range of Warner library titles, including all Batman movies, The Matrix franchise, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Lethal Weapon 1, 2 and 3.
All movies will also be available via Sky’s TV on-demand service and the mobile Sky Go service.
People who subscribe to Sky Movies via U.K. cable firm Virgin Media, UPC or TalkTalk will also be able to access the full range of Warner films.
In addition, before the availability on Sky’s subscription services, customers will be able to rent on a non-exclusive basis a wide range of Warner titles through Sky Movies Box Office, Sky Store and Now TV's on-demand viewing service. 

"This innovative and ambitious deal presents consumers with myriad ways to enjoy our films, many of which will have been produced here in the U.K., and we look forward to working with Sky as it continues to invest in great content," said Josh Berger president & managing director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland & Spain.

"In an increasingly competitive environment for high-quality features, we have once again selected Sky as the best home for our films in the first pay window," said Jeffrey Schlesinger, president, Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. "Sky Movies subscribers can look forward to seeing Warner Bros.’ new films created by some of Hollywood’s most talented directors and stars on Sky’s platform in more compelling and convenient ways."

"We are delighted to be renewing our partnership with Warner Bros.," said Ian Lewis, director of Sky Movies. "By making the films available on demand and on our multiplatform service Sky Go, Sky is strengthening the customer experience, offering customers greater value and flexibility. The deal also sees us extend our reach by offering the films on Now TV and Sky Store, giving more people new ways to enjoy our fantastic content."

The two companies have in the past also collaborated to market films in new ways. For example, the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 saw Sky host live 3D footage on air and in movie theaters across the country, as well as a produce a premiere special on Sky 1 and Sky Movies.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai