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AT&T Broadband to Pipe Content from iN DEMAND

Pay-per-view and video-on-demand (VoD) provider iN DEMAND said it will provide VoD content to AT&T Broadband customers.

For AT&T Broadband, whom its parent is looking to sell to Comcast Corp. to create a blockbuster cable company, the pact is the fruit of its push for expanded services for its Digital Media Center. The concern said in March that its center manages hundreds of pay-per-view events and more than 50,000 live sports events for cable TV and satellite distribution. iN DEMAND will begin providing VoD content for AT&T Broadband customers in Atlanta and Los Angeles in June 2002. To facilitate the process, the firms are working together, and with VoD content licenser DIVA on the transition to iN DEMAND-licensed content.

iN DEMAND, who for years has provided pay-per-view content t AT&T's cable systems, offers content from Sony, DreamWorks, TBS and ESPN. In this new deal, it will provide AT&T Broadband with first-run major motion pictures and Allan Singer, senior vice president, Programming, AT&T Broadband cable network programming. In addition to the licensing and aggregation of content, iN DEMAND will also beam the content via satellite, as well as add marketing and promotional support.

Allan Singer, senior vice president of programming at AT&T Broadband explained the impetus for the pact: "Video-on-demand is a compelling addition to our video services, and will offer our Digital Cable customers with the ultimate in convenience, choice and control," Singer said.

With broadband use on the rise, many people are screaming that streaming VoD will soon explode, but some analysts say not so fast; GartnerG2 predicts that VoD won't be huge until at least 2005. One snag, according to analyst P.J. McNealy, is that firms won't yet be able to provide a high level of service to consumers.

"It will take at least three years to deliver the level of service required for high-quality entertainment programs via broadband," McNealy said. "Studios are embracing Internet streaming and download technologies today in order to deliver the business models of tomorrow. "However, many business model issues as well as consumer-side issues must be resolved for Internet video-on-demand to succeed."

AT&T Broadband, who started offering VoD services last summer, last week began a free market trial of subscription VoD services, featuring content from premium networks Showtime and STARZ!, in Westchester and Culver City, Calif. The launch represents the outfit's first foray into subscription VOD, and is the first deployment of Showtime on Demand and Starz on Demand in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

In a sure sign that the agreement is meant to test the VoD waters, the trial is expected to last up to six months, and will help the companies better understand consumer interest and demand for subscription ' on-demand' services, and understand the added value of subscription services as an enhancement to a video-on-demand offering. The offerings from STARZ! and SHOWTIME will be available free for 90 days to STARZ! and SHOWTIME customers with VoD services available.