The way forward for video-on-demand (VoD) seems suddenly to be gaining momentum around the world - although pure VoD in which all content is always available at the click of a button still looks a very remote possibility.
The technology to deliver VoD has existed for several years, but until recently a combination of factors have held back its roll-out. These have included security issues, problems of bandwidth and telco non-co-operation, studio hesitancy in the face of growing piracy, the meteoric rise of DVD and customer confusion.
This week's MIPCOM programmes market was witness to a number of VOD deals and announcements. These may have been made possible by progress around the world on the ability to deliver fast and secure and on the other hand on a growing threat from illegal pirate and questionable peer-to-peer sources
Japan is to get a new VoD service Cinema Cruise from a team of companies including NTT and Stark. Universal Studios International has already committed to supply feature films in a deal that is believed to be a first for a Hollywood major in Japan.
At any one time Cinema Cruise will offer about 100 titles from Universal's 4,000 film back catalogue. The company is now seeking deals with the other studios.
Satellite operator Luxsat is to launch a video-on-demand service in Belgium and Luxembourg by the end of this year. The service will use a combination of cable and satellite delivery to offer about 200 feature films per year. These can be bought on a subscription or pay-per-view (PPV) basis.
The operation is backed by Luxsat and BIP Investment Partners. The set-top box which customers will have to buy outright will double up as a CD and DVD player, internet access device and is claimed to be able to store up to 10,000 titles on its hard drive. Negotiations with rights holders are currently underway. Chief executive Claudine Rippert aims to roll out the service into Germany next.
Already testing in Germany, German Internet service provider T-Online has acquired VoD rights to feature films from MGM and Constantin Film. It already has deals with Universal and Dreamworks SKG.
MGM Television International Distribution will supply T-Online International with access to its 4,000 library of films including Legally Blonde, Silence Of The Lambs, Four Weddings And A Funeral, Midnight Cowboy and the Rocky and Pink Panther franchises for its T-Online VoD service set to rollout at the end of this year.
T-Online International reached a co-operative agreement with Constantin for an "extensive package of top feature films" including American Pie, Emil And The Detectives and Manitou's Shoe.
"With the feature films of Constantin Film we can round out video on demand range with still more top titles and offer users first-class productions from Germany", Burkhard Grassmann, T-Online's board member for media, said.