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BSkyB launching Netflix rival

BSkyB will launch a new internet TV service, giving people who don’t already subscribe to its existing satellite pay TV service the option to take the movie-oriented online-only service.

The internet TV service, which will launch in the first half of this year, will not require subscribers to sign up to a minimum contract and users will be able to choose from a variety of payment options, including monthly for unlimited access to Sky Movies or to rent on an à la carte basis.

The service will provide access to a range of Sky content beginning with Sky Movies. Sport and entertainment programming will follow.

It will be available across connected devices including PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, games consoles and connected TVs.

The new service is seen as a reaction to the UK launch of Netflix, appealing to viewers that do not want to sign up to a full-fledged pay TV option. Sky will continue to offer its recently launched Sky Go place-shifting service as a bonus to existing Sky pay TV subscribers.

“This exciting new service will offer some of Sky’s most popular content through a wide range of broadband connected devices,” said Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB. “Alongside the continued growth of our satellite platform, this will be a new way for us to reach out to consumers who love great content, but may not want the full Sky service. Bringing a distinctive, new choice to the marketplace will help us meet the needs and demands of an ever wider range of consumers.”

While the new service will be available to anyone with a broadband service irrespective of provider, Sky has also announced that it is expanding its own broadband network. The company will build its footprint to cover 88% of UK homes by 2013, bring another million homes into its coverage zone. It will also launch a public Wi-Fi service powered by recently acquired The Cloud, providing Sky Broadband Unlimited customers with free access to 10,000 hotspots across the UK, including partnerships with venues including Caffè Nero, Pizza Express and Wagamama. Sky will also launch a fibre service in April, giving customers access to speeds of up to 40Mbps for £20 a month. The serivce will be available to about 30% of UK homes at launch, and will grow as BT rolls out its fibre network.