Already proving itself a determined rival to Sky’s pay-TV sports empire, BT’s resurgent TV service is now set to take on Apple’s iTunes with a new movie download store available via its YouView and set top boxes.
From today customers can purchase recent Hollywood blockbusters, including White House Down, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and The Amazing Spider-Man, directly from their TV to keep and watch whenever they want.
Other titles available include Prometheus, Colin Farrell’s Total Recall remake, Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic 2012 and Bad Teacher.
From March 10th customers will also be able to buy the Tom Hanks drama, Captain Phillips.
So far BT has signed deals with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to offer film purchases.
Movies are streamed instantly to the customer’s YouView box and can be kept “indefinitely” to watch and enjoy as many times as they like. BT says it intends to expand the service to include TV box sets over the coming months.
BT TV customers can already rent recent films on a Pay Per View basis via their set top boxes, and a deal with cinema chain Curzon allows them to view titles which are still at the cinema from the comfort of their sofa.
Last year the UK digital download market was worth £621m and BT’s latest move signals a determination to take on the US owned iTunes, Netflix and Lovefilm for a share of that cash.
BT is the first of the UK’s major TV platforms to offer film purchases via their set top box.
Its customers already download “around two million” PPV movies each month, offering a strong base from which to expand into owned downloads.
Unlike purchases from third party stores such as iTunes and Blinkbox, all BT TV downloads are exempt from the customers’ broadband download limits.
By enabling customers to purchase titles directly from their TV, BT is eliminating the need for them to purchase additional equipment – such as an Apple TV box – or connect their computer or tablet to the TV.
The company previously offered a online movie store under its BT Vision brand but the service was eventually dropped in order to focus on its set top box based rental and subscription service.
After a period of apparent neglect, BT’s TV service is increasingly at the fore of the company’s fight back.
BT has credited its best consecutive sets of quarterly results in recent years to investment in the free BT Sport channels.
In addition to the deal with Curzon, the firm signed a deal with Universal Music to let customers stream the latest albums from the label’s artists direct to their TV.
It also offers customers with Infinity super-fast broadband a bundle of 19 of the UK’s most watched digital channels for £7 per month.
Alex Green, director of BT TV, said: “We are delighted to have reached this agreement with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
“The new service gives you even more choice. You can buy the latest blockbusters and they’re yours to keep forever. And you can watch them as many times as you like.”