Starz selling movies via RealOne


In the biggest stab at distributing cable programming via the Internet, pay-movie programmer Starz Encore Group LLC will funnel its "Starz On Demand" product through RealNetworks Inc.'s "RealOne" service.

The Liberty Media Corp.-owned network will package about 100 movies monthly for distribution via high-speed Internet connections, streamed through the RealOne subscription service.

RNI CEO Rob Glaser said selection of movies will be pretty much the same product available on Starz's core network or the video-on-demand service sold through cable operators.

The service will probably be around $10 per month.

Starz Encore CEO John Sie views the deal as a way for cable operators to pitch the high-speed modem service that would be required to view the movies in any reasonable way.

It's "simply a pure, media-technology marriage," Sie said.

Operators, however, are likely to chafe at taking network product and making
it available through any means of high-speed Internet access, including direct-broadcast satellite.

Sie noted that subscribers on systems with VOD service available
are far more likely to watch the movies the conventional way, through their TV
set-tops, and not through a PC or a PC hooked to a television set.

The important part for Sie -- perhaps the biggest proponent of subscription
VOD services -- was RNI's development of the "RealPlayer9" streaming
engine, which allows high-quality video plus Dolby sound.

That's far better than the spotty video and audio quality streaming is best
known for.