Netflix in Streaming Talks With British ITV9 Nov, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Streaming pioneer continues content license offensive in advance of United Kingdom/Ireland service launches in 2012
Netflix reportedly is in advanced negotiations to acquire license rights to movies and TV programs from ITV, England’s oldest independent TV network.
ITV programming includes the venerable series “Downtown Abbey,” among others.
Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix, which last month announced it will bow service in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the first quarter of 2012, also is in discussions to acquire subscription video-on-demand rights to Warner Bros. movies earmarked for BskyB — the largest pay-TV broadcaster in the United Kingdom with 10 million subscribers, according to a report in The Guardian.
Those rights, similar to first-run theatrical rights controlled by HBO in the United States, reportedly come up for renewal next year.
Netflix reportedly is also in talks with Lionsgate and Momentum Pictures regarding license rights in the United Kingdom.
Netflix — specifically its low-margin subscription VOD platform — has been in the crosshairs of Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes for some time, which has all but limited Netflix to second-tier Warner TV content.
Netflix earlier this week scored a coup of sorts when its inked an exclusive streaming deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) for first-run theatrical movie rights in the United Kingdom, including next year’s highly touted “Hobbit” movies co-produced with Warner Bros.
“For Netflix a deal would mean a huge marketing partner to help its U.K. ambitions and for ITV it fits with their strategy of building pay revenue," one observer told The Guardian.
The aggressive tact taken by Netflix has been matched to a lesser extent by Amazon’s LoveFilm, which recently signed streaming deal with Entertainent One, which has U.K. rights to several major U.S. movie franchises, including the “Twilight Saga” from Summit Entertainment and Gnomeo & Juliet (Walt Disney Studios), among others.