The cable industry is poised to launch an aggressive drive against
its rival, BSkyB, after securing the rights to a major pay-per-view
movie deal with the Warner Brothers studio.
Four cable operators - Telewest, Diamond Cable, NTL and General Cable -
have joined forces to bid for the rights to the movies. This represents
the first example in the UK of a major Hollywood pay-TV deal not
exclusively secured by BSkyB.
The cable operators are now planning to offer a handful of pay-per-view
movie channels to UK subscribers before the end of the year and a major
marketing campaign is being looked at to launch the service to consumers
and potential subscribers in the cable operators’ catchment areas.
BSkyB has also signed a long-term deal with Warner Brothers. However,
because the Warners deal is shared with the cable companies, cable
viewers won’t have to be Sky subscribers to receive them, a fact that
effectively poses the first real threat to BSkyB’s dominance of the
Sky’s own service, the Sky Box Office, will screen films on a
pay-per-view or near video-on-demand basis several months before they
appear on the existing pay-TV services, Sky Movies Screen 1 and Sky
David Chance, the deputy managing director of Sky, said the Warner
Brothers deal would ’complement the comprehensive pay-per-view service
planned for Sky subscribers’, which will include sport and special
events as well as a range of movies.