Sky Cinema promise a premiere every day
IN JUST over a week's time, Sky Movies will be no more.
In its place will be Sky Cinema - with the new name reflecting a few subtle and not so subtle alterations to the package.
Chief among those changes are the inclusion of the channels in HD as standard, an increase in the number of films available on demand - and a fresh movie premiere every night.
Sky Movies already shows four premieres a week, including a good number of blockbusters as well as plenty of smaller debuts; it's an ambitious move to promise a completely new to TV movie every night.
When Sky Cinema takes over, it'll do so with a bang - the first premiere it'll show will be the latest Bond film, Spectre. The night after, it's Ethan Hunt's turn as Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation gets its first UK TV outing.
Following that, the premieres for the rest of July will include Ant-Man, Minions, Crimson Peak, and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.
World cinema premieres will get a regular slot in the schedule, every Wednesday from 10pm.
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As well as the premieres and world cinema strands, Sky Cinema will see an increase in the number of themed channel takeovers, promising at least one a month.
They're previously dedicated channels to Harry Potter, James Bond, the 80s, and Tom Cruise - and in August Sky Cinema's first themed channel will be devoted to Star Wars, marking the UK TV premiere of Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Just to rub it in, from August Sky will also be showing The Martian, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Suffragette, The Good Dinosaur, and Hotel Transylvania 2 (for the kids, big and small).
More on demand
Even with their determination to offer more premieres, and to bring in ever more blockbusters to screen on their live channels, Sky admit that the rise of on demand viewing is having an impact.
They say that more than half of all the films watched on Sky Movies at the moment are viewed via on demand - accounting for more than one billion downloads and streams in the past two years.
We can expect that to continue when Sky Cinema takes over from Sky Movies - especially as the push to acquire and screen more movies means that their on demand library is going to increase in size from roughly 1,000 titles to around 1,200.
More patience required
While that's great for people who have or want Sky Cinema, the downside is that those of us who don't want, can't afford, or - in rare circumstances - can't get Sky will have to wait even longer to watch all those films.
Sky's partnerships and deals with various movie studios means that as well as getting to show those films first - usually within about eight months of cinema release - they have exclusive dibs on them for the next 12 months.
We're a long way from the days when a film making it from the big screen to our TV screens could take around four years, but in those days network TV was about the only choice we had.
Nowadays, with numerous streaming media providers, quick releases to DVD and Blu-ray, multiple pay TV providers and hundreds of channels, it feels much tougher to have to wait for films to make it from the cinema to our living rooms.
Consider especially that the biggest of Sky's exclusive partnerships is with Disney. That gives them first dibs on all the obvious Disney content - such as Inside Out and Frozen - and all the new Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
They also have a deal with Twentieth Century Fox, securing them every possible outing Hugh Jackman makes as Wolverine for some time to come, and they've also scooped the rights to the next few DC Comics films, including Batman vs Superman, and Suicide Squad.
It's not just comic book fans who miss out if they don't have Sky Cinema - but they're a good example of an audience who could be forgiven for feeling held to ransom.
At what cost?
Meanwhile existing customers might have already noticed the first of the changes mentioned above.
Back in March, when Sky announced this month's TV price rises, they softened the blow by pointing out that some viewers would see their bills decrease.
They were talking about people with Sky Movies in HD - and who no longer have to pay for the HD part. In March, that meant getting the most expensive of Sky's basic packages, the Family Bundle, then adding the HD pack on top (then £5.25 a month, now £6).
Now, however, every Sky+ customer with the movies package can get the channels in HD - for just £1 more than they were paying for only the SD versions before.
They're not the only pay TV customers who'll benefit - Virgin Media subscribers will also benefit from the introduction of Sky Cinema HD as standard.
Previously they had to pay £7 a month to get Sky Sports or the movie channels in HD - but from July Cinema subscribers should find they're slightly better off.
Those who watch via BT TV, TalkTalk or Now TV are out of luck however.
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