Skip to main content

Disney to 'Beam' Movies on Broadcast Spectrum

Like other movie studios have done with Movielink, Disney plans to jump on the VOD bandwagon and test-market a new service called "Movie Beam" that uses leftover broadcast "bits" to download movies into set-top boxes.

At NAB2003, Disney CEO and President Michael Eisner said the service would make it possible for consumers to choose from 100 different titles with 10 new titles added weekly. Typical VOD services send movies over the Internet, but Movie Beam will use the same analog and digital broadcast spectrum the company uses to send its ABC Television network to homes.

The movie industry as a whole has been on the defensive over content protection for some time, seeking out ways to distribute content to customers with some viewing flexibility but without rampant piracy. "To be blunt, if we don't provide consumers with our product in a timely manner," said Eisner, "the pirates will." The Movie Beam set-top will have the same functions as a VCR/DVD.

Movie Beam, which has been several years in development, will be tested in Salt Lake City and two other markets this fall. Some reports have indicated that the service will use an analog datacasting technology developed by Dotcast, which includes Disney among its investors.