Disney has decided not to expand their MovieBeam service into new markets until at least 2005. The service, launched a year ago, uses a set-top-box to download films via broadcast TV signals. The box can hold up to 100 films, which viewers can then rent for US$1.99 to US$3.99 (€1.64 to €3.28). Subscribers then watch the content on their televisions, and can control the film as if they were watching a DVD, by pausing and fast forwarding or rewinding sections. Films are updated on the box regularly, without user intervention.
The lack of expansion is not because the service has been unpopular – instead, Disney say that the service has been successful, and has attracted interest from companies interesting in partnering with them.
MovieBeam is currently only available in the Salt Lake City, Utah; Spokane, Washington; and Jacksonville, Florida areas, and Disney had intended to launch the service in three more markets by the end of the year. However, the company is now in discussions with technology and electronics companies on how best to take the service national in the USA in 2005 or early 2005.
MovieBeam customers are due for a remote upgrade to their service in October this year, with improvements to the user interface and new content such as short films and current trailers.
Info source: Stefanie Olsen, CNet and Disney