Cablevision, Popcorn offer instant-gratification DVDs

Subs can buy, watch at same time

Cablevision Systems and Popcorn Home Entertainment are set to unveil a first-of-a-kind service today that allows cable subscribers to watch new-release movies on-demand with the purchase of the DVD.

Using their remote control, New York-based Cablevision's 3 million subscribers can order the movie DVD from a screen menu, which includes 24-hour VOD access. The discs are then shipped to the subscriber.

New releases cost $19.95 plus shipping, and library titles range from $9.95-$15.95 plus shipping.

Popcorn will ship Universal's Oscar-nominated "American Gangster" with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe day-and-date with VOD access on Feb. 19. Other Universal titles available include "Eastern Promises," "The Kingdom" and "The Bourne Ultimatum."

The Los Angeles-based company also has an agreement with Warner Bros. for select titles, CEO Steve Brenner said.

He said Popcorn's business plan to distribute packaged media differed from ongoing studio cable VOD/DVD tests, which Brenner considered an alternative rental model.

"We are selling DVDs where the studio gets substantially more revenue than renting a movie," he said. "We are in the business of selling DVDs."

Brenner, who headed USA Network for nearly 20 years, said cable VOD has historically sputtered in large part because of the divergent interests of cable operators and the studios.

"Their economic interests are not united on this," he said. "In the end, the studio's interest is in selling the DVD. This is a very easy value proposition (for them)."

He declined to discuss details about the revenue split among Cablevision, the studios and Popcorn.

Erik Gruenwedel is senior editor at Home Media Magazine.