Disney Puts the Brakes on MovieBeam

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


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?