Movielink, Hollywood.com Team on VOD

Online movie site movielink has signed a deal with entertainment site Hollywood.com to offer a co-branded broadband film download service.

The new service will reside on Hollywood.com’s Web site, and is part of Movielink’s strategy to diversify its movie content delivery options.

Movielink currently offers customers the opportunity to download full-length digital copies of movies directly onto their hard drives. The films then can be watched either directly on PC screens, or on television with some cabling connections.

Movielink is only available to online users with broadband access and offers new movie releases for $4.99, with older releases available for $2.95 per download.

In operation since last November, Movielink is a joint venture of five of the major Hollywood film studios, including, Warner Bros. , Paramount Pictures , Universal Pictures , Sony Pictures Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer .

One of the reasons the studios created Movielink was to combat piracy of their film content on the Internet from non-sanctioned, peer-to-peer swapping services.

It is part of the studios’ efforts to offer film fans an inexpensive yet reliable download service in contrast to the free but unreliable and illegally copied films from peer-to-peer swap sites.

The new co-branded Movielink-Hollywood.com video-on-demand offering provides yet another means for the studios to generate revenue beyond theatrical film releases, video-on-demand services over cable and satellite systems, DVD and VHS releases to video stores, and direct marketing sales.

While Movielink has been around for only a few months, it is still unclear how strong demand will be for a video-on-demand over broadband Internet service. However, The Walt Disney Company , which is the only major studio not a member of the Movielink consortium, said last week that it will soon test its own video-on-demand film over Internet service later this year. AOL Time Warner , which is a member of Movielink, is also hedging its bets with the recent announcement that it will license MovieFlix.com’s library of digital films for exclusive use by AOL Broadband customers.

Financial details of the pact between Movielink and Hollywood.com, a division of Hollywood Media Corp., were not disclosed. Hollywood.com, which is considered a Web destination for film fans, is expected to garner a percentage of fees paid for digital films downloaded.

Hollywood.com said it will now be able to offer its customers the chance to “preview, download and watch contemporary and classic movies from the comfort of their own homes. Users can choose from a wide range of genres and titles, including big box office hits, independent and foreign films.”

Hollywood.com said users can go to the “Movie Download” section on the home page and browse through movie categories such as “New Releases” and “Top Downloads,” preview movies at no charge, and download and view their favorite movies by paying on a per film basis. Users do not pay a subscription or membership fee to use the service.

If a broadband user decides to download a movie, then the customer registers and pays with a credit card number. After downloading the movie, customers then can store the movie for up to 30 days. Once play is initiated, the user can watch a movie as many times as they would like in a 24-hour period. Copyright protections are built into the downloaded files, so that users can’t duplicate or swap the movies with other users.

The Movielink-Hollywood.com announcement comes just days after Movielink was slapped with a patent infringement suit by USA Video, who says the venture is violating its patent.

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