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Video on Demand Market Heats Up

MeTV (www.metv.com) officially launched its Network Entertainment service last week. The service, which has been in consumer testing since January 2001, provides access to movies, music, sports, Internet shorts and online games. Premium content is offered on a pay-per-view basis in a full screen environment.

The end user can watch the video on the PC in a full-screen viewing environment by downloading free software from MeTV. The software replaces the browser as the viewing environment yet functions with a keyboard and mouse on a Windows-based PC. It is ultimately designed for delivery to the TV via MeTV's convergence kit and MeMote remote control. The convergence suite will be available on March 13 on MeTV Network.

Unlike some of the other players in the video on demand space MeTV is not backed by any of the major studios. However according to Martin French, MeTV's EVP Sales and Marketing, the company will be announcing some major content relationships in the upcoming weeks which will expand its content offerings into recently released movies, lifestyle programming, weather and financial news.

CinemaNow's Foot in the Water

In other related news, CinemaNow (www.cinemanow.com), which launched its streaming video on demand, pay-for-view service in November, announced this week that it will begin offering a monthly subscription service ($9.95) which would allow users unlimited access to select films within a 30-day period. Backed by Lions Gate Films, CinemaNow holds the exclusive Internet distribution rights to a large library of feature-length films. Curt Marvis, CEO of CinemaNow, said that the company would continue the pay-per-view model, and was adding the subscription offering to appeal to its frequent use customers.

Earlier this month, Alwaysi (www.alwaysi.com), an online independent entertainment company, launched a paid subscription service for watching Independent films online. It is offering the service at $4.99 a month.

Marvis indicated that while the numbers since its launch in November are not earth shattering, he considered the thousands of transactions to be encouraging. These initial months are being looked at as a testing time for both the technology and market, and it has not yet begun a major marketing push according to Marvis.

According to French, MeTV is taking a similar strategy and is looking to upgrade its current members into the pay-per-view enabled service before launching any heavy marketing or advertising campaigns.

MeTV's official launch follows closely upon its announcement of a new Managed Services Division to begin selling content on-demand systems to other businesses.

Another streaming content company is joining the B2B ranks. PayForView.com, a web-based entertainment and advertising company featuring streaming media, said that it was entering into B2B partnerships to stream conferences on its site. The first conference PayForView will stream is from The Institute for International Research entitled, "Online/Offline Branding: Creating the Seamless Experience,'' held in New York in late February.

CinemaNow also announced a partnership with Digital Envoy to use Digital Envoy's geo- targeting application to be able to enforce territorial restrictions.

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