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Sky UK to Release New Movies at Home and Cinema on Same Day

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 (11:23 am) - Score 50,188
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A decision by Universal Pictures (NBCUniversal) means that, as part of their response to the new Coronavirus (COVID-19), Sky UK (ISP Sky Broadband) will join Comcast in the USA, and a “variety of on-demand services,” to release new films at the same time as they become available in the cinema.

Normally there tends to be a wait of at least 3 months (90 days) before new cinema releases become available on broadband-based video streaming platforms, although there are of course exceptions for those movies that are created or purchased by the streaming companies themselves (e.g. Netflix and ‘The Irishman‘).

Unfortunately the rapidly increasing spread of COVID-19 has caused a dramatic drop in people choosing to visit the cinema and some venues have already closed. Likewise a number of major movie releases have also been delayed (e.g. James Bond) until later in the year.

In response Universal Pictures, which is uniquely positioned as part of the Comcast Corp-owned NBCUniversal (not all such companies could do this), have come up with a different approach. The studio plans to make its movies available at home on the same day as they are released in cinemas “worldwide.”

The new approach will start with DreamWorks Animation film “Trolls World Tour” (due to open in the USA on 10th April 2020). Recently released films including “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man” and “Emma” will also be available from Sky, Comcast and on a variety of on-demand services. Mind you none of this will come cheap (i.e. $19.99 for a 48-hour rental period), but it’s nevertheless a bold move for the industry.

Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, said:

“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception. Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable.

We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible.”

The plan is to kick all this off “as soon as Friday” (20th March 2020). We understand that Sky UK will shortly be announcing how they will implement the new approach and what it will cost, although at this stage it’s unclear what other UK video streaming platforms might be able to implement it. We will update again once Sky has made their announcement.

UPDATE 2:23pm

Sky have just confirmed that they will partner with NBCUniversal to make a range of movies available to rent at home through their Sky Store, on the same day as the global premieres. This will begin with DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Trolls World Tour’ on 6th April. The other aforementioned movies will also be available from this Friday and priced at £15.99 for a 48-hour rental.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
37 Responses
  1. spurple says:

    Finally a Studio with a sensible response!! 🙂

  2. Scott says:

    High costs are not unreasonable or unheard of for new films.

    I can remember Trainspotting selling much earlier than usual schedules in HMV/Virgin Megastore for +£60 on VHS!

  3. The Facts says:

    What open cinema?

  4. Samuel says:

    I’ve been saying for year that they should do this. I am willing to pay a small premium to watch the latest movies

  5. Mike says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if corona kills off cinemas for good, they were dying beforehand any ways.

    Be interesting to see how much of a premium on top of the existing Movie subscription it is.

  6. Jake4 says:

    Dam, This isn’t going to last that long since most people (Couple %) will be torrenting films on release.

    1. spurple says:

      I think the pricing is going to be a real incentive.

      £15.99 for a 48-hour is a little adventurous. Might make a bit of sense if you were buying it outright.

    2. Mike says:

      They could also charge a bit more if they allowed people to buy it outright and it would be less ridiculous.

    3. Sarah says:

      I doubt it. Only old people torrent films, cause they’re the only ones that know what the words means!!

    4. Mike says:

      Technically usenet is for the old, torrent for the middle aged and PopcornTime would be for the young.

  7. MrLazy says:

    Will the films be available on NOW TV?

    1. Jonny Barlow says:

      You can get the Sky Store App on loads of devices like the Now TV stick and android and iOS devices.

  8. Rob says:

    £15.99 isn’t bad for 48 hour rental, considering the ticket price at cinemas and as you can imagine you can watch the film multiple times if you want with everyone in your household for that price.

    1. spurple says:

      It’s kind of ridiculous, because you’re not getting any of the benefits of going to the cinema (fun day out with friends/family/special ones), and they don’t incur the usual costs of running the cinema.

    2. James cassin says:

      What when it cost a fiver at cinema

  9. Colin Free says:

    Good idea but the price is ridiculous. I live near Cardiff and most cinemas there only charge £4 to £5 a ticket…

    1. Scrumpyjoe says:

      Get 4 friends/family together, fiver each. Oh (cough) hang on….!

  10. Graeme mackie says:

    Sky wanting more money of subscribers and won’t answer the phone so people can cancel sky sports get a grip people . Tell them to get to fxxk.

    1. Weaverbeaver says:

      You can cancel or postpone your subscriptions online!

    2. Peter John says:

      Graeme mackie
      You have to be inventive with SKY. When you ring the number, just tell them you want to cancel the complete subscription. The person answering will put you through to the Value Team. Bob’s your uncle.

  11. Walkerx says:

    Our cinema charges £5 to watch latest movies, so this is more than going to cinema.

    Let’s see if Apple do something as their prices for rentals is usually cheaper than Sky or Google

  12. Peter Hensey says:

    After just streaming trolls world wide tour and watching it I wouldn’t bother paying to watch such a rubbish film like this

  13. Paul Spredbury says:

    Don’t understand some people’s comments, four or five pound to watch a movie. I’m sure they don’t go by themselves. So add that up for 4 people usual in a household that’s £20 so £15.99 for a 48hr rental is good as you don’t get that at the Cinema.

    1. Shaun Lindsay says:

      Meerkat 2 4 1!

    2. Matthew Walker says:

      Not every household is full of kids and it’s not like you can invite people round to make it worth it, I’m a Cineworld unlimited customer, so I’m losing out already, you pay a high price at the cinema for the experience of a massive screen and amazing sound, £15.99 should be a keep it price not rental, what does it matter if it comes out today or in 6 months time, the world will keep on turning.

  14. RaptorX says:

    I think this will spur the release of future films in this way once the pandemic is over. So much better than being forced to go to the cinema to watch a movie immediately, or wait a really long time for it to come on Sky, Netflix and especially, Freeview.

    The cinema is a totally outdated way to watch a movie, with lots of restrictions, inconveniences, annoyances and costs just to keep the cinema operators in business, when their business model has actually failed. It’s about time cinema died, or got relegated to the niche business it deserves to be.

    1. Matthew Walker says:

      What about the people who work in those cinema’s. you want more people on the doll and claiming benefits, with an attitudes like this, no one would ever leave there homes

  15. Elaine McDowell says:

    I think it’s a good move due to cinema and theatre closures.

    However, I receive a concession as I have a carer, so paying this amount would definitely be to expensive for me

  16. Tony says:

    OK ok ok we know the virus as bit us and all of the cinemas are shut short term it fine but long term its the cinema for me cineworld do a unlimited card for £19.80 a month I can go and watch any film at any time as many times as I want and Al say at £16 at throw there’s more bad films than good ones out there

  17. Weaverbeaver says:

    everyone moaning about the cost, you don’t have to pay it…

    The way we live our lives is changing the sooner people realise that the better..

  18. chandrika says:

    I have got sky sports package which is not coming so can you upgrade it to Netflix

  19. Barry says:

    Dont think they need to charge as much for the films, probably have more interest in them if they charged less, I wouldn’t mind paying about £8-£10 for the rental

  20. Matt says:

    Where are all these cinemas that charge so little? My local odeon is over £10 a ticket.
    So £15.99 for me is a steal.

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