‘Gladiator’ put in PPV arena

Front Row, U Direct to bring Oscar-winner to U.K. homes

LONDON — Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning “Gladiator” will get its U.K. TV premiere April 23 through the pay-per-view operators Front Row and U Direct.

The deal is a coup for the companies, which usually play underdog to bigger rival BSkyB and its inhouse PPV operation Sky Box Office.

Front Row will offer the film to 3.6 million cable subscribers for $4 each. Pic also will transmit on U Direct via Sky Digital’s satellite platform. Both companies picked up “Gladiator” in non-exclusive deals with Universal.

Separately, Digital Broadcasting Corp., which owns U Direct, has pulled its plans to float on London’s Alternative Investment Market. The offering, which was canceled due to market conditions, was expected to achieve a market value of around $70 million. Shares will be placed privately instead, but DBC plans to return to market within a year.