SVOD service preps for Netflix arrival in U.K.
LONDON — European online film and TV subscription service Lovefilm is ramping up its TV deals in the U.K., striking streaming deals with Brit pubcaster BBC and commercial broadcaster ITV.The deals will see the Amazon-owned company renew its existing deal with ITV, adding additional premium content to the service, including programs such as “Marchlands” and “Above Suspicion,” while the new BBC deal, inked with its commercial arm BBC Worldwide, will streamline the pubcaster’s content, such as “Doctor Who,” “Life on Mars,” “Spooks,” “Whitechapel” and docu “Planet Earth.” Lovefilm will make the content available to its members through its Lovefilm Instant service on PCs, Sony Playstation 3, iPads, Xbox 360, web-enabled TV sets and Blu-ray players. These latest deals reflect just how the subscription VOD service is ramping up its efforts ahead of the imminent arrival of competitor Netflix in the territory in the first quarter of this year. Last month, Lovefilm inked a deal with Sony Pictures, which will see titles such as “The Social Network” and “Salt” available on its platforms. The company also has inked exclusive long-term deals with indies, which will see certain pics become available on the service during the pay TV window. Studiocanal inked a pact with Lovefilm in U.K. and Germany, seeing pics such as “Unknown” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” available during the window, while eOne signed a similar deal for five years, seeing the SVOD service stream distrib’s titles such as “The Twilight Saga” and “The Ides of March.” In turn, Netflix has been gathering ammo for its arrival in the Brit marketplace: Not only has the service inked deals with distribs in Blighty such as Lionsgate U.K. and Alliance Films’ Brit arm Momentum Pictures, but it has also inked a deal with BBC Worldwide for series including “Torchwood” and “Spooks.” According to unconfirmed press reports on Friday, Netflix has inked a slew of deals with Hollywood majors, which will see the service arrive in Blighty with U.S. series such as “24,” “Breaking Bad” and “Damages.” The report claimed that product from Disney, Paramount, Sony and Fox will be on the Netflix U.K. slate. Coupling this with its existing deals with Miramax and MGM for the U.K will see Netflix position itself as a viable competitor for Lovefilm, which has dominated the Brit SVOD arena until now. Since Variety revealed plans for Netflix to enter the U.K. marketplace in July, Lovefilm has plowed money into a large-scale marketing campaign in the territory, with glossy TV commercials and billboard ads. Netflix was unable to be reached for comment at the time of going to press.