WB, Belgacom narrow VOD window


BRUSSELS -- Warner Bros. will offer movies on demand through Belgian cable operator Belgacom TV on the same day as their DVDs are release here, it was confirmed Thursday. The VOD deal with Belgacom TV -- the cable unit of telecoms company Belgacom -- is Warners' first in Europe to coincide with the DVD release date.

Belgacom TV CEO Jean Charles De Keyser said that Warner Bros. films will be available on demand from August on the same day as the official DVD release date, starting with "300." This will push the VOD release date to just three months from a film's theatrical release, down from the current six-month window.

Flemish cable operator Telenet, which also offers digital TV services, will offer Warners-produced films later this summer, though not day-and-date with the DVD release.

De Keyser said Belgium is becoming a European testing ground for studios on various marketing ideas thanks to its two fairly distinct cultures: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south.

"It's a very important deal, which shows that video on demand has become an important distribution channel for studios. It will accelerate video on demand, and we can benefit from the advertising campaigns around the DVD releases," he said. He added that Belgacom was in talks with other film studios in the hope of signing more agreements. "Disney could be next up," De Keyser said.

Belgacom TV currently has 1,450 videos on its menu, 500 of which are movies. Some, such as news bulletins, are free, while the films cost €2 ($2.70)-€4.50 ($6). De Keyser did not specify how much the Warner movies would cost, but suggested they would be between €4.5 and €10 ($13.50).