SEATTLE – RealNetworks Inc. and Starz Encore Group LLC are launching an Internet movie subscription service, 18 months after the two companies first announced plans for the offering.
Seattle-based RealNetworks and Starz of Englewood, Colo., originally planned to begin the service in spring 2003, after announcing it in December 2002. But RealNetworks vice president Karim Meghji said it was delayed because the companies didn’t think the market was ready for the offering, which lets people download movies to watch on computers.
One big hurdle was broader adoption of high-speed broadband Internet connections, which Meghji said allows the large movie files to be downloaded in 30 minutes or less.
Meghji said he thinks initial interest will come from people such as business travelers who want to regularly watch movies on their laptops. The company wouldn’t disclose its sales projections or say when it hoped the venture would be profitable.
RealNetworks hopes the service eventually will reach the point that families are subscribing and watching the movies from their regular television screens, mobile video players and other gadgets. That could take a while, however, as the technology is developed, becomes affordable and is widely adopted.
The service, called Starz! Ticket on Real Movies, will cost $12.95 a month and give viewers access to about 100 movies. The movies are available for viewing an unlimited number of times while they are part of Starz’s current roster of films, but the movie is deleted from the hard drive when the company no longer carries it.