Sky could be forced to open up set-tops to OTT rivals

UK pay TV provider BSkyB could be forced to give rival over-the-top service providers access to any of its customers who can receive its Anytime Plus subscription video-on-demand service under proposals outlined by the Competition Commission.

As part of its investigation into the market for movies on pay TV, the commission has also recommended that Sky should be forced to publish the expiry date of its contracts relating to first subscription pay TV window rights with the six major studios.

The first remedy, concerning OTT providers’ access to Sky’s Ethernet-connected set-top base, would follow the principle that currently requires Sky to make its satellite platform and EPG available to third parties. This remedy would allow those providers of Internet-distributed SVOD movie services which meet certain qualifying criteria to gain access, via Sky’s Ethernet-enabled set-tops, to Sky’s Anytime Plus customer base, to whom they could retail their services directly. This would allow Sky subscribers to switch to alternative SVOD service providers, allowing the latter to make more credible bids for movie rights.

The requirement to publish contract expiry dates is intended as a supplement to this, enabling OTT providers to engage with studios on a timely basis for rights.

The latest proposed remedies follows the competition regulator’s earlier finding that Sky’s control over pay-TV movie rights in the UK is restricting competition between pay TV prices and reduced choice and innovation for subscribers. Initial remedies proposed including restricting the number of studios from which Sky could license exclusive first-run rights, restricting the nature of the rights to give access to rival SVOD services and a requirement that Sky should acquire rival services’ content on a wholesale basis. These remedies met with criticism from studios as “disproportionate” as well as from Sky itself.

The latest proposed remedies are open for consultation until December 5.

Tags: BSkyB, Regulation, UK