Tribune Media Services is set to start sending its Zap2it localized movie service through digital set-top boxes, with AT&T Broadband as its first customer.
AT&T will start distributing Zap2it Movies to all its digital cable customers early next year, according to an AT&T spokeswoman, who declined to put a date on the rollout.
What they'll be seeing is an enhanced form of what Tribune now produces on the Web: Zap2it movie listings, organized according to release dates, with thumbnail descriptions of the films and local-theater screen times. Customers will be able to view the information on their TV screens and order tickets.
Tribune splits the revenues from ticket sales and e-commerce, such as T-shirts and other merchandise, with affiliated cable operators, who will be able to sell their own local ads around the content. "It's a very good arrangement between us and the operator for a product where we share in the revenue and both benefit from advertising sales," said Barbara Needleman, vice president of entertainment products for Tribune Media Services.
The service is designed to be delivered through any digital set-top. But its most compelling feature-movie trailers in MPEG format-will be available only through the General Instrument DCT 5000 and the Scientific-Atlanta Pegasus advanced digital set-tops.
As a major newspaper publisher, Tribune already collects information for 32,000 movie screens in the U.S. and Canada, according to Needleman, who says the new digitized Zap2it is a further expansion of what the company is doing online.
"We've been in the business of collecting this information, so we have good relationships with the studios and the theater owners. This is going to be a beneficial way for them to promote their movies, because they'll be able to deliver video clips."
At the Western Show this week, Tribune is demonstrating the movie service along with a Zap2it community channel for local events and classifieds that can also accommodate accompanying video clips. Tribune also has developed on-screen electronic TV guides.
Tribune will also introduce Zap2it Express, an on-air program guide that delivers customized basic, digital, premium and pay-per-view listings on a grid with up to six channels, three half-hour listings per channel, time and optional local-temperature feature.