Rogers Unspools Online Movie Rentals

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Canada's Rogers Communications plans to launch online movie rentals in mid-October as an extension to its "TV Everywhere" video service, which has attracted 250,000 customers -- out of the MSO's 2.3 million basic cable TV subscribers -- in less than a year.

Rogers On Demand Online Rentals is currently in private beta. At launch, the service will offer more than 400 rental titles to any Canadian with an Internet connection.

Titles are to include new releases such as Sex and the City 2 and The Girl Who Played With Fire, available for $4.99 the same day they are available on DVD. Library titles such as Chloe, Aladdin and Lilo & Stitch will cost $3.99. Customers will have 30 days to start watching a movie, and 48 hours to view it as many times as they wish. The service will accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards.

Rogers, Canada's biggest cable operator, was among the first MSOs to launch a TV Everywhere service last November with about 1,000 hours of content. Rogers On Demand Online currently offers more than 2,500 hours of programming from more than 60 networks and content providers.

With the addition of online movie rentals, Rogers is providing customers access to more than 10,000 hours of content online and through video-on-demand including primetime TV shows, series, movies and sports entertainment.

Also Friday, Rogers said it has signed new content deals with Sony and Astral to extend hundreds of hours of premium series and movies to customers online and on VOD.

Under the agreement with Astral, Rogers will gain access to TMN, HBO Canada, Mpix, Family Channel and Playhouse Disney entertainment content. Content includes episodes of HBO's True Blood, Hung and Entourage, as well as new series like Boardwalk Empire. Family Channel, which has until now only been available in Rogers' linear lineup, will now also be available on Rogers On Demand Online and VOD with Disney programs, including Hannah Montana and Suite Life on Deck.

"Customers love entertainment and want to have the freedom to access the content they want, on their schedules, wherever they are," Rogers vice president of video products David Purdy said in a statement.