BSkyB says competition probe should include OTT providers

The UK’s biggest pay-TV operator, BSkyB, has called for the country’s Competition Commission to include online content providers such as LoveFilm and Netflix in its investigation of the market for TV movies. BSkyB hopes that this will deflect attention from its own dominant position and prevent action being taken by the Commission to weaken it. Yet, it is true that the online and DVD movie distributor LoveFilm, now part of Amazon, is nibbling into its TV movie business, as Netflix is also set to do. Various other online providers will follow, particularly after launch of the YouView connected TV platform in Feb. 2012 by the BBC, commercial broadcaster ITV, incumbent Telco BT and others.

As BSkyB noted in its statement to the Competition Commission, “both Amazon LoveFilm and Netflix have successfully competed for pay-TV movie rights in the UK and elsewhere, including first subscription pay TV window rights, and there is no good reason to believe that their ambitions are confined to acquiring rights from non-major studios, as they have to date in the UK.

“The Competition Commission’s failure properly to investigate these issues is a significant procedural flaw in the conduct of its inquiry and is unfair to Sky.”

This may be because LoveFilm and Netflix have only recently appeared on the Competition Commission’s radar screen, and they no doubt will be taken into account from now on. But, BSkyB remains the UK’s dominant distributor of movies to main screen TVs at present.