Sky challenges Blinkbox with movie rental service
Sky has thrown down the gauntlet to Tesco's Blinkbox service, Virgin Media and Wuaki.tv by allowing everyone in the UK and Republic of Ireland to rent films online from its Sky Store.
From today, consumers will be able to rent the latest films as they become available on DVD - along with older movies - whether they are a Sky customer or not.
Users can visit SkyStore.com to rent a film or do so via set-top boxes such as Sky's own NOW TV box, Roku or a YouView box.
The firm claims to have 1,200 movies available for instant streaming, including recent releases such as Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger.
So how does it compare on price?
The latest releases cost £3.49 each to rent, while older films range in price from 99p to £1.99. This matches the prices at Blinkbox, where the latest releases are also £3.49 and older films begin in price from 99p (though Blinkbox allows you to stream some films in high-definition for around £1 more); and Wuaki.tv, where new releases are also £3.49.
Virgin Media also operates an online movies service, which has been available to everyone (not just Virgin Media subscribers) since April 2010. Its offering includes over 1,000 movies, many starting from 99p. Man of Steel (£3.49 at Blinkbox and Sky) costs £3.99 to rent with Virgin.
Rivals such as Netflix and Lovefilm operate on a different pricing model, where customers must pay a monthly fee of £5.99 to stream an infinite number of movies and TV online.
Sky also operates its NOW TV box (costing £9.99), which allows everyone to effectively subscribe to Sky Movies for £8.99 a month - higher than Netflix or Lovefilm's monthly subscription.
Nicola Bamford, director of Sky Store, said: "With Sky Store there are no late fees and no waiting for the post. Customers simply sign up and stream the film they want to watch, when they want to watch, wherever they want - these days it couldn't be easier to enjoy the perfect movie to suit your mood."