Universal movie deal keeps Sky in the front row

BSKYB has signed an exclusivity deal with the company behind Hollywood giant Universal Studios, maintaining its lead in movie channels as it fends off increasing competition from the likes of Netflix and BT.

The renewed agreement with NBCUniversal (NBCU), due to be announced today, allows Sky’s movie channels to screen films including recent hits Anna Karenina, The Bourne Legacy and Ted, as well as the upcoming Les Miserables.

With the deal, Sky has retained its grip on the pay-TV film market. It currently has exclusivity deals with Hollywood’s so-called Big Six studios, meaning it can show around 70 of the top 100 grossing movies at least a year before rivals and a few months after they are released on DVD.

Sky’s position has angered rivals BT and Virgin Media, especially after the Competition Commission ruled inā€ˆAugust that Sky did not have a monopoly on the market.

Upstarts such as on-demand internet streaming services Netflix and Lovefilm have vowed to make things more difficult for Sky by aggressively bidding for movie rights, while BT is buying up football and rugby rights to challenge Sky Sports’ dominance.

However, Sky is often able to offer multi-faceted deals that give it the edge over rivals. In a separate agreement with NBCU, Sky has also renewed the rights to broadcast channels such as E! Entertainment Television and Syfy.

“The combination of NBCU’s hit movies with Sky’s innovation will give customers an unrivalled in-home movies experience,” Ian Lewis, the director of Sky Movies, said.