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Showtime Showcases Horror, Serials on UMD

13 Jul, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Showtime Entertainment is the latest supplier to jump into the growing PlayStation Portable (PSP) market, launching three initial releases to the Universal Media Disc (UMD) this fall.

Streeting Dec. 27 are two UMD titles featuring four episodes each from two popular Showtime series — the animated cult-comedy “Free For All” and “Family Business,” the erotic reality-show comedy about the porn industry.

Showtime's horror feature Shelter Island, starring Ally Sheedy, Patsy Kensit, Mimi Langeland and Stephen Baldwin arrives simultaneously on DVD and UMD Dec. 27.

Showtime execs were interested in UMD from the beginning but waited to kick of its programming slate for the product to see how well PSP players took off in the marketplace, said Tony Lynn, SVP of program distribution for Showtime.

With nearly 3 million devices sold worldwide already and Sony's predictions of that number tripling by the first quarter of next year, Showtime views UMD as a fast-growing opportunity for incremental business, he said.

“Not only is it another place to sell our product, but it's also a targeted and specific audience market that is complimentary and not competitive to our existing market,” Lynn said.

Like other content suppliers on board for UMD, Showtime chooses programming that plays into the hands of the PSP's demographic of 18-35 male users.

Lynn said the studio will be watching sales closely, and it's very likely Showtime will release more UMD titles after this first wave, including follow-up releases with the remaining three episodes of “Family Business” and “Free For All's” first seasons.

And there's potential for even more “Family Business” UMD titles, he said, as the show prepares to kick off its third season on the air at the cable channel.

Not all Showtime programs or feature films are suited for the UMD, Lynn noted. In the future, he estimates about one-third of releases might roll out simultaneously on UMD and DVD.

As for the production cycle of the new product, it's business as usual for Showtime, as the company uses Sony DADC — currently the only replicator of UMD product — for all its releases, he said.

Sony's strong reputation in the gaming marketplace made UMD an attractive and viable packaged good option for content suppliers to think about, Lynn said.

“Had this been a new company with a hot new product, we would have certainly listened, but we wouldn't have necessarily believed them with the same degree we believed Sony,” he said.

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