Sky today announced the launch of Sky Cinema Original Films in a move to commission and acquire exclusive rights to movies that it will air on Sky Cinema at the same time as they are released in theatres.
The initiative will kick off with Altitude’s animated comedy “Monster Family” in March 2018 and will be followed in April by “The Fast & The Furious” director Rob Cohen’s action movie “The Hurricane Heist”. Clive Owen sci-fi crime thriller “Anon” and Signature Entertainment’s “Final Score” are set to air later in the year.
Sky said the launch of Sky Cinema Original Films would be “positive news” for cinemas across the UK, as they will benefit from Sky’s marketing and the resulting increase in footfall.
“Sky Cinema already offers Hollywood hits, cult classics and local legends, and with Sky Cinema Original Films we’re going to bring our customers even more laughs, shocks, tears and memories than ever before,” Group Director Sky Cinema Ian Lewis said.
“Sky’s original content strategy has already been successful across eight genres of television — now we’re taking it to film to give our content-hungry customers even more reasons to keep coming back.”
Exhibitors warned that films released by Sky in this way would be viewed in strictly commercial terms.
“Clearly as a trade body this is not an issue in which we have a formal role; it remains a decision for each member company on the films it decides to screen. That decision will depend upon — amongst other factors — likely audience demand. Clearly the fact that a film is being released simultaneously in the home will be seen as relevant here,” UK Cinema Association CEO Phil Clapp said.
“It’s also worth noting that one of the features of recent years has been the increasing adoption by colleagues in distribution of a 12 months-52-weeks-of-the-year release calendar. Film being released day-and-date in cinemas and the home will find themselves up against those released first in the cinema to the exclusive benefit of audiences and cinema box office.”
Detailing its plans for 2018, Sky said that it will grow its Sky Originals investment as it expects that, over time, it will be “spending less on second tier sports, linear only entertainment channels and niche movies”.
Sky said it plans to showcase more than 50 Sky Original productions across eight genres in 2018 — including four “key dramas” per quarter across its territories. Sky said it has a “distinct focus on creating content that is local to our key markets”.
Reporting its results for the six months ended Dec. 31, Sky said that viewing of Sky channels increased by 6% following both critical successes and record audiences for Sky Original productions such as “Riviera” and “Tin Star”.
“In content, our focus on high quality, differentiated local programming to complement what we acquire through our partners is working well. We will be increasing our investment in original content each and every year,” Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said.
Overall for the six-month period Sky reported a 5% increase in like-for-like revenue to £6.7 billion and a 15% increase in EBITDA to £1.2 billion. It attracted 365,000 new customers in the period, bringing the total to 22.9 million.
It also announced that its streaming service NOW TV is set to launch the NOW TV Smart Stick, billed as the UK’s cheapest streaming stick at £14.99 and as a new way to access TV shows, movies and live sports.
Powered by Roku, the stick comes with a remote featuring Voice Search technology to help find TV shows, films, actors or directors. For £19.99, customers can bundle the NOW TV Smart Stick with a two-month NOW TV Entertainment Pass for access to 11 pay-TV channels and more than 300 TV box sets. Other offers include a one-month Sky Cinema Pass for £19.99 or a one-month Sky Sports Pass for £29.99.[/private]