Disney, News Corp. starting VOD biz


Disney and News Corp. have agreed to jointly launch a new video-on-demand
venture called Movies.com, which will provide films and other entertainment
content on to U.S. consumers starting in early 2002.

Movies.com will be available to consumers via digital
set-top cable boxes and all forms of broadband Internet access, the companies

The service will feature films and other content from The Walt Disney Studios, including its Miramax Film division, Twentieth Century Fox and other content licensed from third party suppliers, as well as movie-related information and promotional video content.

When the service launches next year, the companies said
it is expected that more than 10 million homes in the U.S. will be able to
access video-on-demand via either broadband Internet or cable.

The service will absorb Disney's existing Movies.com Web site, a movie
information service, and will be based in Los Angeles.

News Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin said the venture will 'provide consumers with an exciting new way to enjoy films with full-function capability and will be an important step toward protecting the integrity of our intellectual property in the broadband era.'

Added Disney chairman Michael Eisner: "With Movies.com, we are creating a new service that takes advantage of advances in technology that will enable consumers to enjoy an exclusive array of their favorite films and other forms of entertainment on demand in their homes.'

The venture will be owned equally by the two companies.
They said that new releases from both Twentieth Century Fox and Miramax studios
will be made available to Movies.com on an exclusive basis for a limited period
of time ahead of the traditional pay-per-view window.

In addition, Movies.com will offer a variety of recent and classic films from the film libraries of Fox and Disney.

Users can access a film on the service through their
digital cable set-top or via any broadband Internet connection to download the
film to a computer hard drive for playback on a television or computer display.

In either case, users can watch the film using pause, stop, rewind and fast forward functionality, the companies said.
- Steve McClellan