BigPond launches movies-on-demand

Telstra BigPond has launched its movies-on-demand service, with the service available to all Internet users, regardless of ISP.

Users can download television shows, movie releases and music videos to their PCs. One thousand titles were available on launch, however the catalogue of movies will be updated each month from with a selection of more than 7,500 titles from Columbia, Tristar, Screen Gems, Sony Classics, MGM and UA films.

Prices range from $1.95 for a television show to $5.95 for a recent movie release, with movie files designed to automatically delete themselves after the rental period. Music videos, which can be watched full screen with digital sound, can also be purchased for $3.95, with no use-by date. BigPond members receive a 20 per cent discount on the standard price.

With file sizes ranging from 500MB to 1GB, downloading a digital movie will take six hours on an average 256Kbps broadband connection. However the launch comes just after news that the telco increased its available broadband speeds to 17Mbps with its Cable Extreme plans.

Customers on Cable Extreme plans can view movies almost immediately after they commence the download -- the content will continue downloading in the background, while they watch.

BigPond spokesperson Craig Middleton said the film and TV content can't be moved from the PC that it was downloaded to, but customers can then use any monitor to view the content.

"Movie content for portable devices is still something for the future with our service, although the "sell through" music videos we have for $3.95 are licensed for five devices," he said.

Optus is also keen to make its presence felt in the entertainment sphere, according to a spokesperson.

"Optus has the view that broadband will offer many applications and we expect to see an increased delivery of digital images, films and TV content on devices," the spokesperson said.

Optus customers can currently view CNN International, ABC and SBS on their mobile handset via OptusZoo. Quickflix is also available from the OptusNet portal.

"To date, Optus has been successful in triple play and is already offering quadruple play with its mobile, voice, video and data services," said the spokesperson.

Quickflix CEO, Stephen Langsford, said in a press statement that he welcomed BigPond's move.

"Any initiative that helps to move consumers' mindset towards online services for their entertainment needs can only be a good thing," he said. "Online provides superior choice and personal service, while traditional video rental stores are becoming a thing of the past.

"With more than half of Australia's eight million households owning DVD players and having Internet access, the potential for online home entertainment companies, such as Quickflix, is huge. Our subscriber base has grown by 200 per cent in the past six months."

Although BigPond's movie-on-demand service is the first nation-wide service of its type, Canberra-based telco TransACT has been offering a video-on-demand service to over 13,000 subscribers for four years.

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