TO SEND VIDEO-ON-DEMAND ON WEB
Intertainer and Akamai Technologies plan to announce an alliance Monday
to deliver video-on-demand to the computers of consumers with high-speed
Internet connections. The service is now available in two markets and
will be broadly available by the end of the year, the companies said.
alliance will involve Intertainer's library, which includes the licensing
rights to entertainment programming from more than 60 media companies,
including DreamWorks SKG, Sony Music, Warner Bros. and Columbia TriStar
Television. The material -- including first-run films, archived films,
music videos and television specials -- is not stored on the user's
computer, but is viewed or heard as it streams in from the Internet.
the distribution technology and services of Akamai, of Cambridge, Mass.,
Intertainer, which is based in Culver City, Calif., will be able to
move rapidly into markets across the country.
alliance of Intertainer and Akamai follows last month's announcement
from Enron, the Houston-based utility and energy giant, that it had
entered a 20-year agreement with Blockbuster to deliver movies on demand
into homes as a digitized video stream.
say that while Blockbuster's strong brand holds certain advantages,
Intertainer is, so far, the only player to have introduced a working
service. It has been in test markets for nearly two years, and is commercially
available in Cincinnati, through the ZoomTown.com service of Broadwing,
and in Denver, through Qwest.
although Intertainer is a small, privately held company, it has powerful
owners: Microsoft, Intel, NBC, Sony, Qwest and Comcast.
has all the distribution, sales and brand you could want, but no service,"
said Julani Zeribi, an analyst with Current Analysis. "At the end of
the day, their announcement was, 'We intend to do this, provided everything
comes together.' Intertainer already has a service, and Akamai can do
this, right here, right now."
Taplin, Intertainer's president and chief executive, said the service
could make first-run movies available for $2.95 for viewing any time
within a 24-hour period, with archive films available for $1.95, television
shows for 25 cents, and music videos and other material free. The content
is encrypted using Microsoft's digital rights management technology,
which prevents copying or redistribution by the user.
quality of the sounds and images, which must be viewed on a computer,
is comparable to VHS tape, but not DVD, but test-market results have
shown this is acceptable, he said.
the Internet is a global medium, the so-called streaming technology
employed by Intertainer and other online distributors of video information
tends to work better the fewer network leaps it must make across the
Internet. Akamai specializes in distributing Internet material in a
way that makes it appear to the recipient's computer that it is originating
the Akamai deal does for us is to quickly offer the service in hundreds
of metropolitan areas instead of a few," Taplin said. Intertainer has
agreements with Internet service providers covering about 75 percent
of the United States, and is negotiating with others for the balance.
Initially, the service would be available only to computer users with
DSL lines, although Intertainer is also talking with cable companies.
service speeds delivery of World Wide Web pages and streaming media
by moving such digital content to servers spread around the globe, thus
bypassing bottlenecks in the broad Internet.
your last-mile connection is good, we should have a server close enough
to capitalize on that," said Jonathan Seelig, Akamai's vice president,
strategy and corporate development. "It will be broadly available across
the country by the end of the year."