TWC pushes VOD envelope

Day and date with DVD release

NEW YORK -- New releases from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group will be available on Time Warner Cable's VOD channel day and date with their DVD release to digital subscribers in the Austin and Columbus, Ohio, markets on a test basis, the companies said Tuesday.

Under the agreement, the films will be available to subscribers for the same price as other VOD films for a 24-hour period. "Happy Feet" and "Deep Sea 3D," an Imax documentary narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, are the first films available.

"We are very excited about working with our sister company on this next-generation business model," said Andrew Mellett, senior vp VOD, digital distribution, at Warner Bros. "This day-and-date offering will provide Time Warner Cable's subscribers with an extremely convenient way to rent movies."

A spokesman for TWC said the service could be expanded to other markets if the test period goes well, but for now the companies are focused on Austin and Columbus. The company said there are 500,000 digital subscribers in those markets.

This is not the first time cable operators have experimented with the day-and-date format. In November, Comcast instituted a day-and-date trial in its Pittsburgh and Denver markets with Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount, Lionsgate, NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox releases.

Starting Tuesday, "Blood Diamond" will be available day-and-date on the TWC service, and on May 22, "Letters From Iwo Jima" will be on the channel.

TWC and Warner Bros. are owned by Time Warner Inc.