Dis-ABC, BigPond ink VOD deal

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SYDNEY -- Disney-ABC International Television (Asia Pacific) on Monday announced that it has inked a multiyear video-on-demand deal with Australia's largest broadband provider, BigPond, its first in this market.

Under the non-exclusive deal, BigPond, owned by Australia's largest telco Telstra, adds 200 first run and library movies from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films to its download-to-rent service.

Titles available to BigPond users from July 1 include "The Wild," "The Guardian," "The Invincible," "Chicago," "Pearl Harbor," "Signs" and classics like "102 Dalmations," "The Parent Trap" and "Treasure Island." TV series are not included in the deal.

Disney joins Sony Pictures Television, MGM, Warner Bros., BBC Worldwide and a number of other independent distributors in providing titles to the 12-month old BigPond platform, which boasts about 2,500 titles in its download to rent online catalog.

Disney has a similar agreement with Hong Kong-based Anytime On Demand to provide titles to Anytime's IPTV service in Australia.

A statement from Disney said the deal was in line with the company's focus on the application of technology to enhance its content and expand its distribution to deliver anytime and anywhere.

Said Greg Johnson, vp of sales for Disney-ABC International Television (Asia Pacific): "Our alliance with BigPond demonstrates our ongoing commitment to working with strategic digital media partners to provide secure ways for consumers to access content."

Added BigPond Group Managing Director Justin Milne: "We're committed to bringing our customers the very best in digital entertainment, with the broadest content and most user-friendly movie downloads."

BigPond claims 2.3 million customers in Australia but the company would not reveal how many of those use the download service.

At the same time, BigPond rival Reeltime.tv announced it has secured AUS$7 million ($5.8 million) in funding to boost content acquisition and marketing for its fledgling online and IPTV video on demand service.

The funding boost is made up of a AUS$3 million ($2.49 million) new share offer and AUS$4 million ($3.32 million) in equity finance from U.S.-based Cornell Capital.

Reeltime launched Australia's first movie download-to-own service over broadband with Universal Pictures late last year and plans to launch its Home Entertainment Center, which will include PVR and IPTV capability, next month.
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