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Warner Inks Digital Deal With BT

4 Dec, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Warner Bros. has started early on what Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons last week heralded as the media giant's “download-to-burn-mode in 2007” after inking a comprehensive electronic distribution deal with British Telecommunications Plc. (BT).

The deal would grant BT subscribers download-to-own, download-to-rent and subscription-video-on-demand (VOD) rights to Warner Bros. movies and TV programming for its next-generation set-top box TV service, BT Vision, which began Dec. 4.

Pricing info on the nascent service, which includes a digital video recorder-enabled box with 80 hours of capacity and 40 British-based Freeview channels, was not immediately available.

Speaking a media summit last week, Parsons said Warner Bros.' principal strategy next year included allowing consumers the option to download movies from the Internet day-and-date with the DVD street date.

Warner content initially available for download includes Superman Returns, the “Harry Potter” franchise, and Stanley Kubrick classics The Shining (with Jack Nicholson) and Full Metal Jacket (with “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” star Vincent D'Onofrio).

Warner TV shows, which will be available for VOD beginning later next year, include “E.R.,” “Smallville,” “Without a Trace,” “Nip/Tuck,” “The O.C.” and “The Closer.”

BT currently has electronic sellthrough and rental agreements with NBC Universal and Sony BMG.

“This partnership with BT is completely consistent with Warner Bros. overall world wide digital distribution strategy to open up new distribution opportunities and provide consumers with the choices they are coming to expect in the delivery of quality entertainment,” said Simon Kenny, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

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