Sky Movies rebrands as Sky Cinema as broadcaster throws down gauntlet to Netflix and Amazon

Star Wars

Sky is attempting to reassert its dominance over Netflix and Amazon in the film market with a relaunch of its Sky Movies package under the name Sky Cinema.

The pay-TV giant said it would increase the number of premieres on the service to one per day, and boost the number of independent and foreign language titles in a bid to attract and retain film fan subscribers.

Sky dominates the first-run television rights to releases by the big six Hollywood studios. Some 45 out of the top 50 biggest cinema hits last year made their small screen debut on Sky Movies.

The service has come under marketing pressure from streaming services, however, and Amazon in particular has picked up premiere rights to some big independent releases, such as the Hunger Games franchise.

On entering the UK market, Netflix said it would make a competition complaint if it failed to prise rights to at least one of the big studios’ films out of Sky’s grip. It did not carry out the threat, however, after attracting millions of subscribers anyway to its library of television series and cheaper, older film rights.

Gary Davey, Sky’s managing director of content, said there may have been a perception that Sky Movies took a back seat in recent years while the company has sought to defend its sports business from BT’s attack.

But he said: “We don’t feel that. We just thought it was a good time to bring together a lot of the new things we’ve been doing with film.”

Sky said it will launch more themed channels, such as its 007 channel

                                     Sky said it would launch more themed channels, such as its 007 channel

The overhaul includes technical upgrades to picture and sound quality, he said. Sky is planning to launch ultra HD films later this year on its new Sky Q set-top box, potentially alongside the the television premiere of the new Star Wars instalment in August.

Alongside the rise of Amazon and Netflix, Sky’s own on-demand film service has been growing rapidly, now accounting for 55pc of on-demand viewing and 10 million downloads per week. Mr Davey said there was no prospect of an end to traditional broadcasting of films, however.

He said: “There is clearly a role for linear for a long time to come. We see the rising curve of on-demand starting to flatten out now.”

The Sky Cinema rebrand to brings the UK in line with Sky’s German and Italian film packages. The company is seeking to use its increased scale to encourage studios to sign pan-European deals that lock rival pay-TV operators out of the latest releases across all its territories.

Source By telegraph…