Akimbo Adds Turner Shows

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Akimbo Systems, which plans to launch an Internet VOD programming service for broadband subscribers in October, has landed its first major cable content deal — a wide-ranging pact with Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

The Akimbo-bound Turner content includes such Cable News Network fare as CNN Presents, People in the News, Larry King and CNNfn news pieces; Cartoon Network programming, including Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, and Courage the Cowardly Dog; Cartoon’s Adult Swim block; and library titles from Turner Classic Movies.

Akimbo also announced deals last week with Granada TV and Quicksilver, which will join some 60 other content partners in the $9.99 a month service that’s set to debut next month.

“The competitive advantage we have is the breadth of content we can offer,” Akimbo founder and executive vice president of marketing Steve Shannon said.

Akimbo plans to sell consumers a $229 player — basically a set-top box that sports a 733-Megahertz processor and a hard drive capable of storing 200 hours of video content.

Shannon said consumers would hook the Akimbo player up to their broadband connection, whether digital subscriber line or cable, then view Internet-based content on TV.

Akimbo has licensed 30,000 hours of content, which it is encoding in Windows Media 9 format.

About 2,000 hours will be available to Akimbo subscribers at launch.

Those subscribers would access content through a menu, much the in same way video-on-demand subscribers use menus to find content.

Consumers can preselect content and have it downloaded to their Akimbo box.

The Granada content will include movies, dramatic series and documentaries, including several Arthur C. Clarke series. Quicksilver produces programming for surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Akimbo also has deals with VTV, CinemaNow, Golfspan, Danni’s Hard Drive, Oasis TV, Naked News, Sail.TV and Action TV, among others.

The programming covers the entire entertainment spectrum, and focuses, to a degree, on programming that’s hard to find on traditional cable systems, Shannon said.

Parental controls are available to screen objectionable content.

About two-thirds of the content providers will offer a la carte or premium content, Shannon said. Akimbo will use Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media 9 digital rights-management system to secure premium content.

Shannon plans to market Akimbo in retail stores and as well as Internet sites (including www.akimbo.com). But he’s also talked to companies that produce media-center devices, cable set-top boxes and even cable operators themselves about carrying the service.

Shannon said Akimbo will have inherent cost advantages by storing all content in one centralized national location. “We have one headend,” Shannon said. “It’s easy to scale our storage.”

But he also believes Akimbo’s niche VOD offerings will complement a cable operator’s on-demand business.

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