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Google Gets 'Waterborne'

6 Jan, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Taking a cue from Apple Computer's iPod, Internet search behemoth Google Inc. announced Friday afternoon it would begin offering video pay-per-view streams of select feature films and programming from CBS television and the National Basketball Association.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google also unveiled Google Pack, a multifaceted software bundle designed to compete against Microsoft Corp. with comparable products, including Internet browsing, instant messaging, satellite imaging and maps, multimedia, search engine, anti-spy ware, digital right management and video.

Among the movies earmarked for streaming beginning Friday was Waterborne, an 80-minute independent title Google Video is offering for $4.99. Google gets an unspecified percentage of the access fee.

Waterborne involves three culturally diverse ethnic groups in Los Angeles who band together after a terrorist attack threatens the city's water supply.

The title, which streets on DVD Feb. 21 (prebook Feb. 2) from MTI Home Video for $24.95, is one of the first to actively court digital distribution to promote DVD sales.

When another distributor balked at relinquishing the film's digital distribution rights, Waterborne's writer/director Ben Rekhi held a screening of the film for Google.

Rekhi, who said Google would promote the film through its network, said the popularity of the Google brand coupled with increased interest in its video service should help promote the film and DVD.

“Google is really democratizing the film distribution process,” Rekhi said. “We really believe online distribution could be a powerful tool for DVD sales in the future. This is really an experiment to see how releasing a film on the Internet followed by DVD affects each other.”

Rekhi said the DVD, unlike the Internet version, would have the requisite added value features, including deleted scenes, cast and crew commentaries and extended scenes.

He said it is only a matter of time before the studios actively seek out Google for distribution.

“The studios need someone like Google,” Rekhi said. “Honestly, who goes to WarnerBros.com? I think it is the other way around, the content providers are begging for Google.”

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