* Time Warner unit extends deal due to expire in 2015
* Netflix in recent $350 million deal for Disney movies
By Ronald Grover
LOS ANGELES, Jan 6 Home Box Office said Sunday
it extended its deal with Universal Pictures for the rights to
the studio's movies, allowing HBO to keep them away from
video-streaming rival Netflix, which is aiming to compete with
HBO, Showtime and TV outlets.
Further details of the agreement were not provided by HBO, a
unit of Time Warner, or by Comcast's Universal
Moves by Netflix Inc, which offers subscription streaming
and DVD rentals, to offer original programming and newer movies
put it into closer competition with HBO and similar premium TV
Last month, Netflix paid what analysts said at the
time was more than $350 million for the exclusive rights to
stream Disney movies to TV beginning in 2016, the video
company's first agreement with a major movie studio after pacts
with smaller independent studios.
Universal's agreement with HBO was set to expire in 2015,
fueling speculation among Hollywood executives that Netflix
would also target the studio that produced this year's breakout
hits "Ted" and "Les Miserables."
Netflix spokesman Joris Evers had no comment.
In August, HBO renewed its deal with 20th Century Fox that
was set to expire in 2015. Terms were not disclosed, but the Los
Angeles Times said the channel was expected to pay around $200
million annually for the movies. The Fox deal was extended
"With HBO's far-reaching network of premium services,
ranging from the traditional in-home experience to its mobile
applications, we are pleased to continue this relationship and
bring Universal and Focus Features' films to HBO subscribers for
many years to come," said Rick Finkelstein, Universal vice
chairman and chief operating officer.
Before its agreement with Disney in December, Netflix
signed deals for new films with smaller studios, including
Relativity Media, The Weinstein company and DreamWorks Animation
Netflix, which started its streaming business with mostly
older films, has been moving to add more original programming
and produces TV shows such as "Lilyhammer," which stars
"Sopranos" actor Steven Van Zandt as an American gangster who
starts a new life in Norway. The company also struck a
high-profile deal with actor Kevin Spacey for "House of Cards."