Movie Network starts broadband service

Pay channel allows more access to premium content

TORONTO -- Canadian premium pay channel the Movie Network is making it easier for subscribers to view HBO and Showtime movie and series fare online and ad-free outside their home and anywhere in Canada.

The Toronto-based channel has launched a broadband service, TMN OnLine, that allows subscribers to stream local and Hollywood movies, TV series and other premium content via a computer and high-speed Internet connection countrywide.

"People don't want to pay to view video on the Web. They feel they've paid enough through the distributors," said Domenic Vivolo, senior vp sales and marketing for Astral Television Networks, which runs the premium pay TV channel, referring to consumer research that preceded the development and launch of TMN OnLine.

To ensure full portability, the Canadian pay service has tied user authentication and access to an existing TMN subscription, and not a home Internet connection.

Initially, TMN OnLine users will need to be a subscriber of Bell TV, a domestic satellite TV service that carries TMN.

Vivolo anticipates rival cable operators will sign up to offer TMN OnLine once they perfect technology to ensure a consumer who logs on to an out-of-home computer to view the online offering is in fact a cable subscriber.

"Their (cable TV) billing system has to talk to the point of entry into the portal. We want to make sure it's a secure environment," he explained.

Launching TMN OnLine will help the premium pay TV service leverage its studios deals, which include first-run Hollywood movies and TV fare from U.S. pay channels HBO and Showtime.

And requiring a carrier subscription also aims to ease fears among domestic cable and satellite TV operators that, as they pay license fees to programmers like TMN, those same programmers streaming TV programming online for free will not encourage consumers to cancel their cable and satellite TV subscriptions.

"This way makes it easy and accessible (to watch movies and TV series online), and so why would you want to mess around outside the normal course of business," Vivolo said.