Starz Entertainment Tuesday said it will pull the plug on its struggling, stand-alone broadband subscription service Vongo next month, while continuing to operate under the lower-subscription-cost Starz Play brand currently distributed by Verizon.
The 32-month old Vongo, which for $9.99 per month offers online users unlimited viewing of more than 1,000 movies as well as a simulcast of the Starz service, will discontinue service at the end of September, according to Starz officials. It stopped taking new customers on as of Aug. 1. The Liberty Media-owned programmer would not say how many subscribers currently pay for the service, which launched in 2006 at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Instead Starz will offer the re-branded Starz Play service to operators to distribute on their Web-based platforms. Paidcontent.org reported the move today and noted that Vongo itself was a rebranding of an earlier, $12.95 service called Starz Ticket.
Verizon is currently the only distributor offering the Starz Play online movie service, which provides more than 1,000 movies -- including Ratatouille, Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End -- and 1,500 other video titles for viewing from anywhere in the United States, although Starz says it is in talks with numerous potential cable affiliates. To use the service, a subscriber downloads special software and can access the downloadable titles from up to three different devices, including Windows-based computers and personal video players.
Starz executive director of corporate communications Eric Becker said Verizon will also make the Starz Play service available to non-Verizon broadband customers for $5.99 a month.
“We’re bringing the broadband business in line with all of our other lines of business and be a wholesaler for the service and no longer offer a direct to consumer service through Vongo,” he said. “The subscription component of Vongo is the exact same thing as Starz Play service, so anyone who is a Vongo subscriber can sign up for Verizon’s Starz Play service.”