DirecTV to Launch Premium VOD in April

10:02 AM PST 03/31/2011 by Pamela McClintock, Georg Szalai

Titles from Warner Bros., Fox, Universal and will be available 60 days after their theatrical release for $29.99; Comcast and VUDU will begin a similar service.

Narrowing the theatrical window, four Hollywood studios and DirecTV will launch a pricey premium VOD service at the end of April, followed swiftly by Comcast and VUDU. Consumers will be able to see a movie 60 days after its release in theaters.

The move is sure to irk exhibitors, and comes just as studios and theater owners are in Las Vegas for CinemaCon.

Warner Bros., Fox, Sony and Universal are all on board, according to insiders. The movies will be available for 48 hours for $29.99. The first titles to be offered are likely Sony's Just Go With It, Fox's Cedar Rapids and Warner Bros.' Unknown.

Fox Searchlight titles will be offered 60 days from the date that they go wide.

While DirecTV will offer the service to its to customers nationwide, Comcast and VUDU will do so only in select markets, at least initially.

Studios are hoping that premium VOD can help offset the decline of the DVD business, once a major source of revenue.

But some in the industry question whether consumers will want to pay up to $29.99 for a movie.
There’s also concern over piracy. Paramount isn’t taking part in the premium VOD service because of this issue.

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