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Universal launches download-to-own movie service

Universal launches download-to-own movie service

LONDON: U.S.-based Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of General Electric, is launching a new digital video download-to-own service enabling movie buffs to download movies and receive a DVD copy alongside.

Starting April 10 Universal will offer the service by which consumers can download two digital versions of selected movies, one a computer version and another for a portable device, and receive by mail a DVD copy too.

The service is being launched in the U.K. in partnership with Lovefilm, a firm which is already in this segment offering download service for movies from Warner Brothers on a rental basis. In the new service, consumers come to own the downloads and the DVD copy.

Eddie Cunningham, Universal’s U.K. chairman, said the service is intended to give instant access, portability and flexibility for the consumers to use the movie the way they want it. The service is using Microsoft’s digital rights management platform, which prevents the users from duplicating the content, burning to a disc or even uploading it on to the net.

Universal will start with its movie “King Kong”, which will be part of the initial offer of 35 movies. King Kong is priced at 19.99 pounds for the download.

Lovefilm chief executive Mark Livingstone said he expected other Hollywood producers like Warner Brothers to enter the download-to-own market.

Universal hopes that the service could be extended to other countries in view of the high prevalence of broadband internet connectivity. In addition to King Kong, the other movies on offer include “Pride & Prejudice”, “Serenity”, “Doom” and “Nanny McPhee”. The prices are in the range of 9.99 pounds to 19.99 pounds. The service can be accessed through Lovefilm’s website or through AOL.

It will take about 40 minutes to an hour to download an average film through a 2 megabyte-per-second broadband connection.

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