LoveFilm hits back at soon-to-launch Netflix with multi-year, multi-layer deal with studio, all of Warner Bros available streaming content to be exclusively available on LoveFilm from December.

The digital rights race is escalating in the UK, with LoveFilm hitting back at impending competitor Netflix by signing its first UK deal with a major studio, Warner Bros.

The new multi-year, multi-layered pact spans Amazon-owned LoveFilm’s digital subscription, postal rental, download to own, pay per view services, as well as Warner Bros.’ branded SVOD service WarnerFilms.

The studio is calling the subscription streaming element of the deal an ‘exclusive second window subscription pay TV deal’ which will see Warner Bros’ recent and upcoming releases watchable via LoveFilm’s LoveFilm Player (on the PC or accessible via PlayStation3, iPad, web-enabled TV sets and Blu-ray players, and later this year Microsoft Xbox 360).

The key development means that from 2012 Warner DVDs and Blu-rays will be available from LoveFilm by post 60 days after release (and via Warner Bros.’ branded SVOD channel, WarnerFilms), instead of the current 28 day window.

Movies available at the start of the deal in December will include The Dark Knight, The Hangover, Gran Torino and Sex and the City 2.

The deal does not impact Warner Bros’ existing deals with BSKYB, and in fact comes one week after studios roundly criticised the Competition Commission (CC) for its Preliminary Findings to its report on the UK pay TV market, which the CC is concerned is too heavily weighted in favour of BSKYB. One of the studios’ main arguments against the CC was that the Findings did not grasp the current diversity of the SVOD and VOD market, which it says offer distributors ample opportunity for alternative output deals.

Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, President, Warner Bros International Television Distribution added: “The establishment of a second pay window with LoveFilmis an important evolution in the way films are made available for viewing in the UK in ever-more convenient ways. Importantly, the structure of the deal ensures that our films continue to retain their value to linear and non linear operators following this window and for the long term.”

Netflix’s impending arrival in the UK has provoked a flurry of deals between distributors and Netflix and UK competitors such as LoveFilm.

Netflix has recently inked deals with Miramax, MGM and Lionsgate, while in the past months LoveFilm has done deals with StudioCanal and Entertainment One.

WarnerFilms gives 24 hours a day on-demand access to 28 movies at any one time with seven new titles added every week.