Disney Invokes Vudu For HD Movies

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The Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Home Entertainment division will offer more than 60 download-to-own titles in high-definition through Vudu's Internet-connected set-top boxes -- the first online service through which Disney is distributing HD movies.

Vudu plans to offer every HD release from Buena Vista Home Entertainment for purchase as those titles are added to the service, day-and-date with DVD release.

Initial titles available through Vudu from Disney-owned studios, including Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films, will include Doubt, High School Musical 3, No Country for Old Men, The Sixth Sense and National Treasure.

"Consumers are expanding the way that they acquire and watch films and Buena Vista Home Entertainment wants to support this growing medium of digital delivery," said Lori Macpherson, Buena Vista Home Entertainment's general manager for North America, in a statement. "We are pleased to work with Vudu as a distributor of our HD films for digital purchase."

The Disney-owned movies offered through Vudu will be available for purchase in both 1080i HD and Vudu's HDX format, encoded at variable bit-rate in MPEG-4 H.264 in 1080p at 24 frames per second.

Vudu -- which has not disclosed how many subscribers it has signed up for its service -- has signed distribution deals with major U.S. movie studios and more than 50 independent studios and distributors. The company currently offers more than 15,000 movies and TV episodes, including more than 2,000 HD movies.

Under a separate deal announced last month, Sony Music Entertainment will offer free music videos on Vudu's set-tops, through Sony's partnership with Brightcove to deliver ad-supported Web content to the device's users.

In addition, IPTV gateway vendor Entone Technologies recently announced plans to make Vudu's online video service available to telcos through its devices.

Vudu's investors include venture-capital firms Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital. The privately held company was founded in 2004.

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