updated 04:35 pm EDT, Thu June 5, 2008
Japan to get HDOD service
Tsutaya, Japan's biggest rental chain, today announced it will launch an HD video on demand service, allowing users to download titles from home. The service will be made possible via the acTVila portal, and give customers a 48-hour window to view the content. The acTVila service works directly with dozens of plasma and LCD HDTVs, and Japan will stop analog signal broadcasting by 2011.
Tsutaya didn't specify the format for its videos, but in comparison, iTunes also offers videos for 48 hours, with new release movies priced at $4 per episode, and older ones at $3. Not all of them are in HD, however.
Tsutaya, which has 27.2 million members and 1,330 branches in its home country, plans to cooperate with Paramount, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney and NBC Universal to expand its online catalog to more than 2,000 titles. High-speed fibre-optic connections are required for use of the service, with about a quarter of Japan's 48 million homes already thus equipped, and the remainder connected with ADSL lines.
The service will launch Friday, offering downloads of the first seasons of Heroes, Lost and Desperate Housewives. Prices for a feature-length movie are set at 735 yen (about $7), with shorter movies costing less.