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Lovefilm opens new pay TV window with Warner

Lovefilm is to open an exclusive second pay TV window with Warner Bros in the UK. The online and DVD movie rental provider has struck a multi-year multi-platform deal with the studio to offer Warner movies on an exclusive basis immediately after their initial pay TV run with BSkyB.

“We have signed a deal with Warner to take all their output, and we will have along second window [after Sky],” said Lesley MacKenzie, group digital officer at Lovefilm, speaking at Informa’s OTTtv World Summit in London today.

MacKenzie said the deal meant that Warner films would not appear on free-to-air for four to five years after their initial theatrical release. MacKenzie said that seeking early exclusive windows was paramount to Lovefilm’s success, citing the example of the deal it struck earlier this year with E1 Entertainment, giving it exclusive first-run rights to the Twilight series of movies.

The Warner deal will see recent and forthcoming film releases added to Lovefilm’s Watch Online service either on the PC or accessible via Sony PlayStation3, Apple iPad, a number of web-enabled TV sets and Blu-ray players, and on Microsoft Xbox 360 when Lovefilm launches on that platform in December.

Movies available at the start of the deal in December will include The Dark Knight, The Hangover, Gran Torino and Sex and the City 2. The deal spans digital subscription, download to own and pay per view services, as well as Warner Bros.’ branded SVOD service WarnerFilms. Lovefilm will also make Warner films available by post on DVD and Blu-ray 60 days after release from next year.

MacKenzie said Lovefilm was looking to introduce more transactional services, including electronic sell-through, leveraging new owner Amazon’s buying muscle. “The financial [issue] with SVOD and electronic sell-through is that studios take most of the revenues so if you end up with a price war there is not much left for you,” she said. “Now we are a bigger company with financial muscle we can play a different game.”

MacKenzie said that the company would be looking into the development of UltraViolet cloud-based digital lockers next year, a key requirement for Blu-ray electronic sell-through. Warner Bros was the first studio to sign up to market UltraViolet-enabled discs via its Flixter service earlier this year.