UK Pay-Per-View Service Challenges Netflix

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A Pay-Per-View Internet service that could serve as a model for challengers of Netflix was announced in the United Kingdom Monday.

The service, Now TV, was unveiled by BSkyB, a satellite entertainment provider serving more than 10 million subscribers in the UK, and goes online Tuesday. The no-contract service offers recent and "classic" movies for pay-per-view fees ranging from 99p ($1.54) to £3.99 ($6.19).

Unlike Netflix, Now TV will offer streaming of recent DVD releases before cobwebs collect on them. Among the current movies offered by Now TV at launch are We Bought a Zoo,The Woman in Black,The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, This Means War, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Anyone in UK with an Internet connection can access the service via PC or Mac. It's also offered on some Android phones, with an iOS app for service expected in August. BSkyB also plans to expand the service in the coming months to other platforms, such as Xbox, PlayStation 3, and Roku set top box.

The satellite broadcaster also plans to expand its pay-per-view offering to include sports programming, such as English Premier League and UEFA Champions League soccer, England Test cricket, Heineken Cup rugby, ATP tennis, and the Masters golf tournament.

In addition to Now TV, BSkyB is launching an "all you can eat" service called Sky Movies Pass for about £15 ($24) a month. Subscribers to that service have unlimited access to the company's library of more than 600 movies, including recent releases such as X-Men: First Class,Bridesmaids,Green Lantern and Cowboys and Aliens.

BSkyB's move to bring fresh and timely content to streaming TV watchers contrasts with Netflix, which has been in a content quandry since Starz gave it the heave ho.

However, content streamers in the United States face challenges that make it more difficult for them to launch a service like Now TV -- as the recent dispute between Viacom and DirecTV painfully illustrates.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

This story, "UK Pay-Per-View Service Challenges Netflix" was originally published by PCWorld.

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