James Bond wielding his Walther PPK has been a staple on British television for decades, but soon the world of terrestrial programming may not be enough.
The 26 spy-starring films could move to a subscription-based streaming service in a $ 9bn (£ 6.4bn) deal orchestrated by Amazon, raising fears of an end to a contract to broadcast them on ITV.
Jeff Bezos’ company is in talks to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the Hollywood film studio that owns the rights to the James Bond franchise.
Industry analysts believe the deal will mean ITV’s deal to stream the films will not be renewed, with Amazon instead using 007 to help sell subscriptions to its Prime Video streaming service.
Tom Harrington, of media research firm Enders Analysis, said: “When this deal goes through, it could definitely go behind a paywall – Amazon or wherever – like it did with Sky for a while.
“The main difference to having it on a major streaming service, however, is that it would cannibalize the rental or purchase of the movie online. At the moment, ITV’s rights are very limited when it comes to catching up or streaming James Bond live, so renting or buying is protected. ”
MGM reportedly hired bankers in December to find a buyer for the studio, which has a library of 4,000 films, including the Rocky films, Robocop and Rain man alongside television series such as The Handmaid’s Tale and the many Real Housewives reality shows.