Hollywood studios snub Murdoch

Warner Brothers, Hollywood's largest studio, is planning to pull all its top first-run films from BSkyB's premium movie channel - because not enough viewers watch it.

Warner Brothers, Hollywood's largest studio, is planning to pull all its top first-run films from BSkyB's premium movie channel - because not enough viewers watch it.

In a further blow to Rupert Murdoch, who owns 40 per cent of BSkyB, the studio is planning its own premium channel, beamed to British homes, and it has invited other major film-makers to join it.

Universal, which is in the throes of being taken over by Mr Murdoch's arch rival, Jean-Marie Messier of Vivendi, is understood to be keen to join in. Fox, which is owned by Mr Murdoch's News Corporation, is almost certain to stick with BSkyB. However, it is only one of five Hollywood majors which provide the majority of films shown on the Sky film channels.

According to industry magazine New Media Markets, the Hollywood studios are worried about the falling number of subscribers for BSkyB's three film channels, which lost an average 6 per cent of their cable subscribers in the second quarter of the year, according to the latest figures from the Independent Television Commission. Even though the number of cable homes is increasing, the BSkyB film channels have been in decline since the beginning of this year.

Sky Premier's cable subscriptions dropped from 909,843 at the beginning of 2000 to 792,507 on 1 July. Sky Moviemax dropped from 889,366 to 758,292 over the same six-month period. And Sky Cinema went from 893,650 to 744,233.

BSkyB is also facing competition from new entrants such as FilmFour and the cable TV-backed Front Row, as well as video-on-demand services such as Homechoice and Yes.

The Hollywood studios give BSkyB exclusive rights to show the first run of their films on TV. The fee depends on the number of subscribers and the film's popularity, but can be as much as £2.5m for a box-office hit.

BSkyB is understood to take in more in subscriptions every year than the entire box-office income of British cinemas.

"Hollywood has continuing disquiet about the performance of Sky's movie channels," said Andy Birchall of rival movie service Front Row. "In the back of Warner Bros' mind during negotiations will be the declining performance of the three movie channels."

A senior Warner executive indicated that a stand-alone Hollywood channel was a distinct possibility. "The studios have been looking at how to expand their UK pay-television business in the future because of the proliferation of pay-TV platforms," he said.

A BSkyB spokesman dismissed the Warner move as a negotiating tactic to try to persuade BSkyB to pay more for its moves. "Movie fans want to watch the biggest stars, the biggest pictures and the best directors, irrespective of the studio that made them," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy