News

Buena Vista Move Clouds VOD Picture

2/09/2001 7:11 AM Eastern

Operators' concerns about obtaining Hollywood product for video-on-demand
deployments grew when studio powerhouse Buena Vista Television pulled its
product from VOD servers for the foreseeable future.

Although Buena Vista officials said the move was a temporary effort to
examine the VOD landscape, the studio joins Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures
in withholding its product for VOD distribution. The decision leaves operators
without some major Hollywood titles to help fill in the monthly VOD
schedule.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned Buena Vista's move comes at a tenuous time for the
industry, which is beginning to launch VOD in concert with ambitious digital
system upgrades.

Most industry executives point to VOD as digital cable's 'killer app,' as it
allows consumers to watch content on demand and employs VCR-type features such
as fast-forward, rewind and pause capabilities.

But Hollywood movies are arguably VOD's most attractive and potentially
lucrative content source. And with three studios currently not participating in
the technology, the fledgling VOD industry will miss a number of top titles.

In February, for example, Buena Vista's Gone in 60 Seconds and Sony
Pictures' Hollow Man, Godzilla 2000 and Loser make up
nearly one-third of all new PPV-movie releases for the month.

Buena Vista Television will not offer its February titles to such VOD content
providers as In Demand L.L.C., Diva Systems Corp., Intertainer Inc. or SeaChange
International Inc., Buena Vista Pay TV vice president and
general manager Dan Cohen said.

Although the studio has a light February schedule, it does have the biggest
box-office premiere of the month with Gone in 60 Seconds ($101
million).

Cohen said the studio wants to take a look at its options before it licenses
movies to VOD distributors.

VOD content providers said they were optimistic that Buena Vista's product
would soon return.

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