Amazon’s LoveFilm has struck back against deal-happy video streaming rival Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), signing its first UK rights agreement with a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX) for films including The Hangover and The Dark Knight.
The multi-year deal is wide-ranging with agreements covering LoveFilm’s subscription streaming service – which will compete directly with Netflix when it launches in the UK and Ireland in the new year – as well as its postal rental, download-to-own and pay-per-view services.
LoveFilm’s deal with Warner Bros is thought to be its first with one of the big Hollywood studios, marking an escalation in the digital rights battle with Netflix.
The deal does not affect BSkyB’s rights to show movies on its services, with Warner Bros saying that it has carved out a new “second pay-TV window” for the first time that will see LoveFilm get titles exclusively for its subscription streaming service.
“The establishment of a second pay window with LoveFilm is an important evolution in the way films are made available for viewing in the UK in ever-more convenient ways,” said Jeffrey Schlesinger, president of Warner Bros International Television Distribution.
Netflix and LoveFilm have been in a rights arms race to secure film deals for their UK streaming services, which has pushed up the value of rights by tens of millions of pounds.
Netflix has signed three deals in a little over a week with Miramax, Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) and MGM for films including Pulp Fiction, Kick-Ass and The Hobbit.
LoveFilm recently reached a five-year agreement with Entertainment One, which has rights to films such as teen vampire franchise the Twilight Saga and Gnomeo & Juliet.
It also recently struck a deal with Studio Canal – formerly Optimum Releasing – the distribution company behind movies including Source Code, Attack the Block and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.