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Buena Vista Links Up With Movielink for VOD

29 Jul, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner


Buena Vista Pay Television has signed on with Internet video-on-demand (VOD) provider Movielink to make The Walt Disney Co.'s movies available for download for the first time, the companies announced last week.

The deal covers new releases and select library titles from labels including Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Dimension.

Titles set to join the Movielink roster in the first wave include newly released best-picture Oscar winner Chicago, plus Gangs of New York,The Recruit, 25th Hour, Frida and The Jungle Book 2, among others. Library fare, including Monsters, Inc., The Rookie and In the Bedroom, will also be available.

“Our relationship with Movielink opens the door to exciting new territory,” said Dan Cohen, SVP and GM for Buena Vista Pay TV. “This deal paves the way for today's Internet-savvy audience, providing unprecedented access to our movies aboard a high-quality and secure Internet site, and is part of Disney's overall strategy to make digital content available in a convenient manner for a customer-friendly price.”

Disney becomes the sixth major studio supplier to offer titles on Movielink, which five other studios — MGM, Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner — launched as a joint venture last November. Artisan Entertainment signed on with Movielink in late March. The addition of the Disney titles will increase Movielink's catalog to about 400 titles, up from 175 at launch.

Earlier, Disney and 20th Century Fox had an agreement to launch their own Internet VOD service, but that deal fell apart in April 2002. Fox, the only major studio not offering its titles on Movielink, later signed on to offer its titles online at CinemaNow.com. The former joint venture, Movies.com, still exists as a Disney-operated e-commerce and entertainment site.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to offer Disney movies on Movielink,” said Jessica Algazi, Movielink's VP of content. “With Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Dimension titles coming to the service, consumers will be able to choose from an even greater selection of movies for secure download — including family films, box office hits, critically acclaimed independents and Academy Award winners. This deal illustrates the belief in the Internet as a new and potentially vibrant channel of movie distribution by another major studio and highlights Movielink's interest in doing deals with all content providers to help open up this channel of distribution even further.”

Disney also has announced plans for a trial rollout of a closed VOD system called Moviebeam this fall, around the time Buena Vista Home Entertainment will also test the EZ-D disposable DVD. Moviebeam will use a proprietary set-top box that offers the same functions as a DVD player, according to a Disney fact sheet. It will operate as a direct-to-consumer service, bypassing cable, satellite and Internet service providers.

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