Jonathan Taplin's US broadband video-on-demand (VOD) venture Intertainer has teamed up with Italian new media giant Freedomland to launch an Internet Protocol (IP) VOD service for broadband customers throughout Europe. As part of the deal, Freedomland has made an equity investment of E10 million in Intertainer in return for a minority stake in the company.

The joint venture, to be named Intertainer Europe, will be modeled on Intertainer's existing US broadband VOD service, and will feature a mix of US and European content. Freedomland will own 51% of the new venture in which it will invest a further E15 million.

In the US, Intertainer provides two services ' a broadband entertainment-on-demand service and VOD content aggregation for cable operators. Among its content suppliers are studios such as Universal, Warner Bros, DreamWorks and MGM and TV and music players like NBC, Warner Music and PBS.

Intertainer Europe will be headquartered in Italy and will be distributed in more than 40 countries. Like its US counterpart, it will employ Microsoft's Windows Media technology for maximum quality in streaming media video and audio; Windows Media Digital Rights Management will be employed to protect the content from piracy. Content will be played on an embedded Windows Media Player which can be paused, rewound or fast-forwarded at will.

Intertainer and Freedomland cited data in their announcement yesterday which predicts a VOD user base of over 2.6m by 2005.

"Europe has yet to see the emergence of a high-quality, robust VOD service aimed at broadband subscribers, so we feel there is a tremendous opportunity to take a leadership position in this market," said Willy Burkhardt, managing director of Freedomland, in a statement.

Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, Freedomland joins Intertainer's other shareholders, which include Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Thomson, Qwest, NBC and Comcast.