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Sunday, August 21, 2005
  best- Movie downloads to make it big
Entertainment on your home computer is about to become more than just games and music.

Within a year, computer owners should be able to download movies as well as television shows and watch them on TV.
The first steps in cutting out the trip to Blockbuster are already being taken, although the web content is till “locked” to the PC.

However, industry experts predict this block will be removed next year and content downloaded from the web will be able to be burned on to DVDs and watched on television.

Early starter

The most significant move in the British market will come this November, when Sky will allows its movie subscribers to download films from a catalogue, including those being broadcast that month and a library of 200 others.

It will also start allowing sprots subscribers to download match highlights, interviews and news broadcasts.

But piping the Sky service to the post came the launch of BoxOffice365.com from Internet start-up British Internet Broadcasting Company (BiBC).

Is has signed deals with ITN, Universal Music, Virgin and Sanctuary Group to offer music and comedy for £1.50 to £3 for single episodes or £6.99 to £14.99 for a full DVD’s content.

Paul Hague, BiBC managing director, claims the service is talking to the big movie houses, but they were concerned about piracy.

“We’re talking to the distributors and once they realise how popular legal downloading can be, I’m sure they’ll make their content available”, he predicts.

“Our content is available in Windows Media Player 9 format so it can be played on the PC, but, if you have Microsoft Media Centre, you can send the content to it via WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) so you can watch it on television”, he said.

Distributor backing

One British movie distributor has already shown enough confidence in online TV to allow the country’s first simultaneous premiere of a film in the cinema and online.

The deal between distributor Dogwoof Digital and online portal Tiscali meant EMR, starring Jeremy Edwards and Jemma Walker, could be downloaded from the moment the curtain went up at its London premiere.

More are expected to follow shortly, assures Tiscali editor Richard Ayers.

“We think that what has happened for music online this year will happen for films next year”, he claims.

“So we’ve to got another low budget British film that we’ll be making available for download before the end of the year and we’ve also got a selection of shorts, including 10 titles each month that will be shown at the Rain Dance festival we sponsor.

“We can’t see it happening for massive new releases for a year or more, but we’re getting the ball rolling and providing an extra revenue stream for films that wouldn’t get as much DVD shelf space or rental potential as a Hollywood blockbuster”, Ayers said.

Building blocks

Although the Hollywood studios are deeply concerned about piracy, Intel’s entertainment and media global alliances manager, Hintendra Naik, reveals the chip manufacturer is involve in a project to allow movies to be downloaded and then burned onto a DVD so it can be watched on TV.
It has made an investment in ClickStar, an online movie distribution company set up by actor Morgan Freeman, which claims its download and burn service will launch in Britain during the second quarter of next year.

“Morgan Freeman has seen the Net as a huge opportunity”, said Naik.

“He wants to show Hollywood they’ve more to gain by making it easy to download films legally than allowing the illegal downloads to go on unchallenged.

“It’s exactly what make music industry has gone through. They now have an extra channel and we’re convinced film sales will too.

“The crucial part is that ClickStar will allow users to make DVDs so they can be watched on the television because not many people want to watch film on their own in front of the computer screen”, Naik said.

Ultimately, Naik predicts the DVD option will not be as important, because homes will have an “entertainment PC” or similar hub sitting underneath the television that can be use WiFi to display films stored on a PC in another room.

But until such device catch on, be believes the ability to burn a DVD will be crucial – Guardian Newspaper Ltd.

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