Amazon’s Lovefilm is extending existing deals with ITV (LSE: ITV) and BBC Worldwide to gain a larger catalogue of their shows for online streaming, as it begins to defend against Netflix’s imminent UK arrival.
The deals are not for new or recent TV shows, which all UK broadcasters now offer only through their own-branded catch-up services, but for older, archive shows.
- ITV: Lovefilm already had a deal for archive shows produced by ITV Studios, for which ITV was able to license its own rights, like Inspector Morse. The new deal also gives it archive shows once made for ITV by independent producers, like Secret Diary Of A Call Girl and Cold Feet. It is a 12-month deal.
- BBC Worldwide: Content includes older episodes of Doctor Who, Life On Mars and Spooks. BBCWW tells paidContent: “It is a full range of content from classic archive to contemporary series. It will include some content that has gone out on iTunes but not the most recent iTunes releases as per the BBC’s programme release policy. Where we supply content to ad-funded services, those titles may be older than the content that appears on a subscription service.”
The shows are available through the multiple boxes on which Lovefilm is now present.
But none of this is premium fare. The BBC Worldwide content was like that previously licensed to SeeSaw and currently licensed to BlinkBox. Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) itself is believed to be currently licensing the same set of ITV archive content from ITV. It is largely the equivalent of TV DVDs.
“One of our transformation plans is to distribute content on both free and pay platforms. This is part of the pay strategy,” an ITV spokesperson tells paidContent. But Lovefilm is paying to licence the catalogue to make available to Lovefilm subscribers, viewers will not pay ITV directly.
For new shows aired in the last seven days, UK broadcasters prefer streaming through their own services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand Five, S4/Clic and SkyGo, which are now available on multiple devices – to an aggregated offering.
BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 had intended to form a JV, Project Kangaroo, to exploit post-catch-up archive shows commercially through a single gateway, but it was prohibited by the Competition Commission.
That has left an opportunity for aggregators to come in and scoop up the archive shows. SeeSaw, which used technology already built for Kangaroo, has failed and closed. Now Netflix and Lovefilm are signing up old shows in acts of brinkmanship. Netflix executives will meet UK industry members next week.
But, while broadcasters prefer to go it alone on their best content, neither is yet ready to offer the new shows that most viewers want to watch, and so the dream of a single aggregator goes on…