In Demand Gets Closer to Full-Studio VOD

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Twentieth-Century Fox — which just recently severed its video-on-demand ties to The Walt Disney Co. — has reached a VOD-distribution deal with In Demand LLC.

Beginning in July, the pay-per-view purveyor will have access to such Fox box-office titles as Behind Enemy Lines, Shallow Hal
and Ice Age
for its VOD service, In Demand executive vice president Rob Jacobson said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Twentieth Century-Fox is a good and important content supplier, and the deal helps get us about 60 percent of the way to [having full-studio VOD rights]," Jacobson said. "It's meaningful to us in terms of the type of momentum that it's going to help generate."

Only Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Disney, Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. have yet to agree to long-term affiliation deals with the content aggregator.

In a statement, Fox executive vice president of worldwide pay television and PPV Peter Levinsohn said the studio was "pleased to be expanding our existing relationship with In Demand to include these rights."

The agreement came just days after Fox announced it would pull out of Movies.com, its joint venture with Disney.

The Movies.com deal, first announced in September, called for Fox and Disney to provide movies and other entertainment content on demand to consumers in the U.S. through either digital, on-demand cable systems or broadband Internet connections.

Unlike other VOD partnerships, the Fox-Disney joint venture planned to offer new releases from the studios on an exclusive basis and ahead of the traditional pay-per-view window, which is typically 45 to 60 days after the video-rental release.

But after considering the potential regulatory processes and logistical issues — and carefully examining technological and marketplace developments — Fox determined that the joint venture was not appropriate at this time.

Disney confirmed it would continue to own and operate the existing Movies.com Web site, which offers movie reviews, trailers, listings and other content.

Jacobson said Fox's decision is a coup for the industry.

"To a certain degree, it's vindicating because we've been saying to them all along that this is the best most efficient way to generate VOD revenue immediately as opposed to doing something that in the future might yield a positive revenue equation," he said. "We were persuasive in saying that cable VOD is here and now, without the out-of-pocket costs you would have if you had to go out and build it."

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