European pay TV operator Sky is set to enhance its movie offering with the launch of subscription service Sky Cinema in the U.K. and Ireland on July 8. Sky Cinema is set to become the biggest dedicated movie subscription service in Europe as Sky’s movie services in Germany, Austria and Italy are also rebranded and relaunched under the new name.
Sky Cinema will present a new movie premiere every day, a bigger library, more pop-up channels, and better HD picture and sound quality, and new pics will be delivered closer to the theatrical release date.
Sky Cinema replaces the Sky Movies service in the U.K. and Ireland. The offer of a new movie premiere every day is a 75% increase on the four per week offered by Sky Movies. “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” “Spectre,” “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” “Steve Jobs,” “Bridge of Spies” and “The Danish Girl” are among the films to premiere in the first few months.
Major films will be available eight months after their theatrical release, and can be watched exclusively on Sky Cinema for over a year before viewers can watch them on any other subscription service. Some 45 of the top 50 films at the U.K. box office in 2015 are exclusive to Sky Movies.
As well as Hollywood movies there will also be many arthouse and foreign-language pics. A dedicated new “World Cinema” slot every Wednesday from 10 p.m. will include critically-acclaimed films such as “El Ardor” (Argentina), “Theeb” (UAE) and “Tangerines” (Estonia).
The library of films available on demand has been enlarged, with around 1,200 films available, an increase of 20%.
Sky Cinema will be the exclusive home of “Star Wars” and other major franchises, including the films from the DC Comics and Marvel universes.
To coincide with the premiere of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” in August, Sky Cinema will air the “Star Wars” pop-up channel in August and September, featuring the entire “Star Wars” back catalog, and other themed programming. Sky customers will get to see all the films as the franchise continues to unfold including “Rogue One” (August 2017) and “Episode VIII” (August 2018).
There will be an increased number of pop-up channels and movie-themed original programming, building on the popularity of Sky Movies pop-up channels like “007,” “Harry Potter” and “Aliens.” In the pipeline for the next six months are pop-up channels for “Disney-Pixar,” “Star Trek” and “Superheroes,” as well as channels showcasing the work of actors including Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks.
The new service, which offers pics on its linear service, on-demand and on the go, is available at no extra cost to existing and new subscribers, and HD will be offered as standard to all Sky Cinema customers on the Sky and Virgin Media platforms in the U.K.
All films will be available on 11 dedicated live channels, via on demand, or on the go through Sky Go and the Sky Cinema app.
Ian Lewis, director of Sky Cinema, Europe, commented: “With Sky Cinema we are giving customers an even closer to the cinema experience with enhanced picture and sound quality. However, we know the heart of the service is great movies. Customers want a breadth of the latest quality films to enjoy with the flexibility to watch whenever they want and on whatever device they choose.”