Premium cable channel HBO has renewed its deal for theatrical movies from 20th Century Fox.
Although terms were not disclosed, HBO is expected to pay just over $200 million annually to the studio for the movies, people familiar with the matter said. The extension runs through 2022. The current contract was set to expire in 2015.
There are some tweaks in the new agreement between Fox and HBO. Previously, when a 20th Century Fox movie was running on HBO, the studio could not sell that title on iTunes, Amazon, Wal-Mart’s Vudu or other digital platforms. Now 20th Century Fox can sell a movie electronically even when it is in HBO’s so-called window. That clause goes into effect immediately.
With Fox getting that concession from HBO, it seems likely that the pay cable channel’s other two big movie suppliers -- Universal Pictures and sister studio Warner Bros. -- will want the same treatment.
Keeping 20th Century Fox is a big deal for HBO. While the pay cable channel has become best known for its original shows such as the comedy “Girls" and the drama "Boardwalk Empire,” having a steady stream of movies is still valuable.
That is especially true now given the increased competition HBO is facing from Showtime and Starz and online subscription service Netflix, which views itself as a rival to HBO.
Separately, HBO said it was launching its service in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. Dubbed HBO Nordic, the announcement came only hours after Netflix unveiled its own service for that region.
HBO is teaming on its Nordic service with pay-TV veteran Peter Ekelund, operator of Parsifal International, which is the parent of URHOtv, an ESPN-like service that is popular in Finland.