Kinowelt Medien has bought a 10% stake in emerging German video-on-demand (VoD) player media[netCom].

The move comes after several months of co-operation between the two companies, which saw Kinowelt become a supplier of content during media[netCom]'s experimental phase.

"The present state of development of media[netCom]'s cinema-on-demand technology shows very clearly how quickly cable, internet and TV are growing together," said Kinowelt CEO Michael Koelmel.

Marburg-based media[netCom] is now conducting pilot trials in several cable regions and expects to roll the service out across Germany from the beginning of 2001. Its technology is based on internet protocols and is expected to be capable of delivery over any broadband network. A stockmarket flotation on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt is planned for this summer.

Media[netCom] already has a film supply deal with VCL for an initial 100 films under a relationship which is expected to be expanded (Screendaily, Apr 11). At the time, VCL estimated that in five years time VoD will account for one third of Germany's annual video business which is currently valued at around $1bn (DM2.1bn).

On top of the monthly basic cable charge of $9 (DM18.50), media[netCom] will charge its customers $19.50 (DM40) a month for the decoder and a subsequent $2.40 (DM5) per film.

"The customer potential for VoD does not come just from today's regular video rental clients, but also from every other consumer who shrank away from the rental system," said [netCom] chief Frank Hackenbuchner.