Yes Television, the UK's pioneering video-on-demand (VoD) group, has signed its second content supply deal within a week of announcing plans to float on the stockmarket (Screendaily, Mar 21).
Yes has inked a deal with Digital Broadcasting Co (DBC), which trades as u-direct films, to create a u-direct channel on Yes' VoD platform. Significantly the move also enables DBC to offer VoD in addition to the existing pay-per-view (PPV) service which it has operated on BSkyB's digital platform since last summer.
Last week Yes struck a two-year deal with BBC Worldwide creating a BBC strand on the Yes platform. The deal spans several hundred hours of programming from drama and documentaries to comedy and children's shows. BBC Worldwide chief executive Rupert Gavin said: "Interactive TV services are of growing importance in the UK. As well as the benefit of additional revenues we will derive useful viewer information and trends on this growing market."
An offshoot of Elmsdale Media, Yes currently operates via ADSL phone lines in the UK town of Hull and has been tested on cable networks operated by NTL. It is expected to rapidly increase its coverage of the UK following a separate deal signed earlier this month with BT to form BT Yes Television, due to launch next month.
DBC says that its deal with Yes is not exclusive and that it is taking a platform-neutral approach to further expansion. It hopes soon to sign VoD supply deals with other distributors, notably cable and satellite. It is also negotiating to expand its number of channels on the BSkyB digital platform from 12 (11 film feeds, plus one promo channel) at present.
In order to expand its service into VoD, DBC has had to re-negotiate its deals with its roster of film suppliers. It currently has multi-year deals with Alliance Atlantis, Metrodome Distribution, Artificial Eye and Downtown Pictures as well as limited package deals with Universal Pictures, Metro Tartan, and FilmFour. "Nobody else could have exploited these rights as we already had the holdbacks. But we still had to do the pitch and sign new contracts," said a DBC spokesman.
Yes last week unveiled plans to float and said that it had already secured separate commitments from Buena Vista and Warner Bros International Television to take shares in the company. These minority stakes are believed to be around 10% each to be matched by commitments and provide Yes with a guaranteed but non-exclusive flow of movies and TV programming for three years.
Although the timetable for its flotation has not yet been finalised, Yes aims to have finance and deals in place in time for a major marketing push in the early autumn.