Sky appears to have purchased Acetrax, the video on-demand operator based in Switzerland, for an undisclosed sum.
Acetrax, which has inked distribution deals with the likes of Disney, Sony and Paramount allows subscribers to stream and download movies for the cost of a DVD. As well as letting subscribers watch through their laptops and PCs, Acetrax also has a Smart TV app seen on Samsung, LG and Toshiba connected TV sets.
Buying Acetrax is an ideal move for Sky, which is poised to launch its Now TV service in the UK by the summer.
Talking at the announcement of Now TV in March, Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said that “Starting with movies, it will soon expand to offer sport and entertainment as well. And customers will be able to pay monthly or rent a movie on a simple, pay as you go basis.”
"Now TV will be available on a wide range of devices and offer instant access to a range of high quality Sky content, with no install and no contract,” Darroch added.
Though Sky already has secured movie broadcast rights for Sky Movies, this doesn’t cover VOD viewings and purchases.
Sky doesn't have exclusive deals for so-called ‘day and date release,’ which services like Blinkbox offer - the ability to download to own a film from the day the DVD or Blu-Ray hits the high street. What Sky does have exclusivity on is the ‘first pay TV window,’ for Sky Movies, which is a separate distribution deal.
Acetrax currently lets you buy to own as well as rent titles, so this may be a feature we’ll see getting tied into Now TV at some point. More info on this as and when we get it.
We've a feeling that Now TV's success will hinge on whether UK punters can download to own Leprechaun V: In the Hood on multiple devices.
Update: We've just heard back from Sky who've told us that the Acetrax buyout will be used to power Now TV and Sky Go to boot:
“Through the acquisition, Sky will add to its experience and expertise in online video streaming, to help complement its expanding OTT activities, which include Sky Go and the forthcoming NOW TV service. Sky continues to innovate in distributing its content to a growing number of devices and platforms.
“In addition to Acetrax’s existing platform, Sky will also build on the existing relationships the company has established with connected device manufacturers and content providers.”