Amazon's LoveFilm, taking on Netflix, adds Fox in Britain

Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:46pm IST

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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(Reuters) - LoveFilm, Amazon's European DVD and movie streaming service, has agreed to stream movies and TV shows from News Corp's Twentieth Century Fox TV unit, adding content from another Hollywood studio to compete with Netflix's six-month-old British service.

The agreement gives LoveFilm exclusive access to older episodes of TV shows such as Fox's "24" and the motorcycle drama "Sons of Anarchy" from Fox's FX cable channel, LoveFilm said in a statement.

The deal adds to the exclusive streaming deals the British service says it has signed with outlets that include NBC Universal and Sony and Warner Brothers to give its subscribers exclusive access to movies like Warner's "The Dark Knight" and "Sex and the City 2."

Most of LoveFilm's' deals cover the so-called "second pay window," which follows a period of several months during which pay channels like Britain's Sky Movies have the rights to air those movies and TV shows. The first pay window begins about a year after the movie appears in cinemas.

LoveFilm, which was acquired by Amazon in February 2011, says it has 2 million subscribers in Britain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway for its DVD and streaming service.

Netflix started a streaming service in Britain and Ireland in January with movies and TV shows from Disney, NBC, Paramount, Fox and others.

A Netflix spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Netflix said in an April letter to shareholders that it has 23 million streaming subscribers in the United States, and 3 million in Canada, Latin America and Britain.

It does not break down its international numbers by country.

Satellite operator BSkyB, Britain's largest provider of subscription TV services, controls movies from Hollywood's largest studios in the earlier "first pay TV" window.

On May 23, Britain's Competition Commission ruled that BSkyB does not dominate the British pay-TV movie market, citing the new entrance into the market by LoveFilm and Netflix.

The commission had previously found that Sky's subscriber base of more than 10 million homes gave it an advantage over rivals who struggled to bid for rights to first-run Hollywood movies.

While the commission said BSkyB still held the rights to the movies of all six major Hollywood studios for the first subscription pay-TV window, it said Netflix and the Amazon-owned LoveFilm had already acquired rights to several other studios.

(Reporting by Ronald Grover; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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