Aussie teaming on download-to-own


SYDNEY -- Universal Pictures Australasia is teaming up with Australian-based broadband movie provider Reeltime Media Ltd. to release "Miami Vice" as this market's first download-to-own movie, day-and-date with Wednesday's release on DVD.

The partners said the release of "Miami Vice" and 35 other Universal titles is the first major DTO service in the international market to include secure-burn technology, enabling consumers who buy the film through the Reeltime Web site to burn a title three times for use on a variety of players, including PC's, DVD's and portable devices like PSP players and mobile phones.

"Universal will be the first major studio internationally to launch a DTO service with a secure-burn option, allowing an even more complete digital experience for consumers," Universal Pictures Australasia managing director Liz Van Hooven said.

"Reeltime was ready with the infrastructure to make DTO movie downloads effective, secure and legal. The timing is right now to be at the forefront. DTO is the big thing in online distribution," she added in an interview.

Reeltime will progressively encode and make available other Universal new release titles on the same day and date as DVD release.

Other Universal titles among the 35 available at the service launch this week will include "The Break Up," "King Kong," and "Love Actually"; the service will be expanded to include 100 Universal films by January 2007, with the aim of making its 2000-title library available as DTO movies within three months.

Reeltime CEO John Karantzis said he hoped to expand the service to Reeltime's other studio partners in the near future.

The company is currently beta testing its movies online rental service after striking supply agreements this year with 20th Century Fox, Sony, MGM Universal, Granada, Palace Films and Icon Films, and will launch its service for Australia and New Zealand exclusively through the Yahoo 7 portal in December.