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BSkyB renews movie deal with Disney including new channel

Renewed deal with the US studio includes the launch of a Sky Movies Disney channel and prevents VoD rivals from offering blockbusters such as Wreck-It Ralph and Iron Man 3.

BSkyB has secured a wide-ranging deal with Disney for exclusive rights to its new and classic titles.

It is the fourth agreement that the satellite broadcaster has made with one of the six major US studios since being cleared of holding a monopoly of UK pay-TV film rights in May 2012.

The deal includes the creation of new TV channel Sky Movies Disney – the first time Disney has been involved in a co-branded movie channel anywhere in the world.

The channel, scheduled to launch on March 28, will have exclusive pay-TV rights to new and archive Disney and Disney/Pixar movies in the UK and Ireland, from Bambi and Brave to Pinocchio and Cars. Live action features such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and National Treasure will also be available.

On demand

BSkyB has also secured the rights to offer the films on its VoD service, Now TV, which it launched last July to combat new US rivals Netflix and LoveFilm.

Reflecting changes in viewing behaviour, all the titles will also be available to view through Sky Go, available on smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Catherine Powell, senior vice president and general manager of media distribution for Disney EMEA, said: “Building on the strong performance of our movies and Disney Channels in the UK and Ireland, this agreement will not only increase the range of Disney entertainment being made available, but also the devices and platforms that viewers will be able to enjoy them on.”

Marvel, Lucasfilm

The satellite broadcaster has a 24-year relationship with Disney and the new agreement gives Sky Movies the first subscription pay-TV rights in the UK and Ireland to other titles distributed by the US studio, including new titles from Marvel Studios films such as Avengers Assemble and Iron Man 3, for broadcast across its portfolio of channels.

It also includes new titles from Lucasfilm, which Disney bought from founder George Lucas in October 2012 for $4.05bn. Upcoming movies include a new Star Wars film directed by JJ Abrams that is planned for release in 2015.

Speaking to Screen, Sky Movies director Ian Lewis said: “This new deal will also incorporate films with Disney’s other brands, so any new Marvel films that are released in the UK will come to us first.

“Also, when Lucasfilm starts releasing new Stars Wars films they will come to us as well.”

Exclusive for a year

New titles, such as Wreck-It Ralph and Monsters University, will be made available around six months after they have ended their run in cinemas and will be exclusive to Sky Movies for at least a year before they are made available to other pay-TV services.

Lewis confirmed: “Sky Movies Disney will offer all new titles to our customers for at least a year before other TV channels or subscription services.”

Sky will launch a dedicated Disney section on its On Demand service, offering hundreds more hours of catch-up and library shows.

Previous studio deals

Over the past six months, BSkyB has secured agreements with Universal, Sony and Warner Bros.

In September, Sky renewed its agreement with Warner Bros for the rights to films including The Dark Knight Rises and was the only UK broadcaster to show Harry Potter films for a three-month period over Christmas.

In November, Sky announced it had struck a deal with Universal for the exclusive rights to movies including The Bourne Legacy, Les Miserables and Anna Karenina that also prevented rivals Netflix and LoveFilm from offering the blockbusters.

In January, it signed a multi-year deal with Sony Pictures Television, giving it exclusive access to new Sony movies such as Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man around six months after their theatrical run as well as library titles.

Back in October, BSkyB launched Sky Movies 007 after securing the rights from MGM to air all James Bond films in high definition, ousting commercial broadcaster ITV to the one-year deal.  It coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr No, and the release of the latest movie, Skyfall.

At the end of last month, BSkyB posted six-monthly figures to Dec 31 that showed operating profits were up 8% to £647m ($1.02bn).

The broadcaster added 25,000 new customers in the final quarter of 2012, bringing its total to 10.5 million.

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