Microsoft, CinemaNow tout video-on-demand in U.S.

Microsoft announced Monday that it has teamed with CinemaNow to license an Internet-based, video-on-demand (VOD) distribution technology for businesses, dubbed PatchBay.

PatchBay is intended for distributors who want to launch their own VOD networks, and offers content distribution and syndication, digital rights management, pay-per view and subscription services and demographically targeted advertising, as well as third-party components.

For Microsoft, the deal presents an opportunity for the software juggernaut to tout its wares, given that PatchBay is based on Microsoft technologies. The VOD technology was built on the Windows 2000 operating system and utilizes Windows Media Audio and Video products, as well as Microsoft's digital rights management.

PatchBay already manages nearly 1 million users each month watching 2 million streams of video on the company's site. CinemaNow is majority backed by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., a producer of films, television and animation.

Together, Microsoft and CinemaNow hope to make the technology a centerpiece for Internet-based VOD initiatives. VOD is seen as a burgeoning market for the studios and cable networks, who seek to pump their content over the Web.

As well as offering distribution services, PatchBay also provides e-commerce management, user profiling, and territorial rights, whereby rules can be set on where the content can be distributed, as well as other digital rights management features.

Content distributed through PatchBay can be reached by any Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled device, including PCs with Windows operating systems, Macintosh computers, set-top boxes and handheld devices.

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