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Rentrak Tests Tracking Movie Downloads; Q1 Income Falls 17%

5 Aug, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Rentrak Corp. Aug. 5 said it had begun global test trials with multiple studios to track content streamed or downloaded for purchase on the Internet.

Paul Rosenbaum, chairman and CEO of Rentrak, said the download tracking service would launch later this year. He cited third party data that said consumers spent $117 million buying or renting movies online in 2007.

The Portland, Ore.-based data-tracking service's nascent digital download essentials unit is expected to contribute positively to Rentrak's Advanced Media Information division, which saw first quarter (ended June 30) operating revenue increase 29%, to $3 million, from $2.4 million during the same period last year.

Increased DVD rental business helped Rentrak's pay-per-transaction (PPT) post a 2% rise in revenue to $22.3 million from $21.9 million last year.

“In a challenging economy, our PPT business is performing extremely well as consumers seek inexpensive forms of entertainment,” Rosenbaum said in a call with analysts. “The current environment has made home entertainment a much more viable and dynamic market than a year ago.”

PPT revenues increased 10% from last year, and Rosenbaum said the company signed a new revenue-sharing agreement with a studio he said distributes 10-14 theatrical movies on DVD annually.

Rentrak also signed Blu-ray Disc revenue-sharing deals with two suppliers.

“Renting DVD movies remains one of the most economical ways to watch movies,” Rosenbaum said. “Consumers are looking for less expensive forms of entertainment. Our legacy PPT business has proven very resilient.”

The company said it is on goal to launch TV essentials in 2009 as a direct competitor to industry stalwart Nielsen in the lucrative network TV data tracking market.

Overall, Rentrak reported net income of $1 million, down 17% from $1.2 million last year. Revenue increased nearly 5%, to $25.4 million, from $24.2 million last year.

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