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Telewest goes live with VoD first wave

# 18 January 2005, 14:22 by Frank

On the same day as ntl, Telewest Broadband has also unveiled its Video on Demand (VoD) offering, and has started to offer the service to its Digital TV customers in Bristol ahead of plans to launch a wider range of services nationwide, starting in summer 2005.

The new service will initially be available to over 2,100 digital TV customers, who will be Telewest’s first customers to be able to watch the latest films whenever they want through their existing set-top box.

This differs from Front Row, in that the a customer need not wait for the movie to start at a designated time. The VoD service also provides the same controls as watching a DVD or video, including pausing, fast forwarding and rewinding programmes.

The UK’s second largest cableco is investing around £20m in development of TV-on-demand and personal video recorder (PVR) services in 2005.

“We’re transforming TV as we know it by launching a truly on-demand movie service, with DVD functionality,” said Eric Tveter, president and chief operating officer at Telewest Broadband. “And this is only the first step – we plan to ramp up our TV-on-demand services over the year with additional TV, music and niche content to appeal to all of our one million digital TV customers.”

The on-demand movie service is provided to both cable companies by FilmFlex, a joint venture company between Sony, Disney and the On Demand Group, will offer hundreds of films including the latest blockbusters and golden oldies.

Andy Birchall, Chairman of the ON Demand Group, commented: “After three years in development, FilmFlex is delighted that this initiative has resulted in a stunning, breakthrough VOD service for cable viewers in the UK. FilmFlex is the first UK movies on demand service to have the backing of two major Hollywood entertainment companies behind it, which combined with content from other major and independent film studios, will deliver a top quality consumer experience.”

Update 1: Telewest have confirmed that access to the VoD service will be free to all digital TV customers, exactly like Front Row. Customers will only be charged for the content that they access, and charges will be “comparable with video and DVD rental stores, with films costing between £1 and £4.50 for 24 hours”. Prices will also depend on the title and any relevant offers.

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