Disney to expand MovieBeam video service

The Walt Disney Company will expand its MovieBeam digital video service into three new markets by fall. The new locations will be announced by summer.

Launched last September and now available in Jacksonville, FL; Salt Lake City; and Spokane, WA, MovieBeam uses TV broadcast signals to deliver digital video files to a set-top box. The set-top box can store up to 100 movies, which customers can view on-demand for between $2.49 and $3.99 per film, plus a monthly equipment rental fee and a one-time activation fee in some areas.

Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner said the company reported better-than-expected results, with net profit rising to $537 million, or 26 cents per share, up from $314 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

MovieBeam is one of several experiments from Disney aimed at creating new distribution channels for its content. In the past year, the company has signed deals with online video-on-demand ventures CinemaNow and Movielink, allowing people to download and stream rental movies over the Internet. It also has tried selling self-destructing DVDs that become unreadable a few days after they are exposed to the air.

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