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Fox, Warner Go Peer-to-Peer

Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. will make select movies and TV shows available for download through a peer-to-peer content delivery network run by Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Wurld Media Inc.

Television shows including The Loop, Firefly, The Dukes of Hazzard and Babylon Five will be available on a rental basis through Wurld's Peer Impact service for fees starting at 99 cents per episode, which entitles a consumer to a full 24-hour viewing period.

Peer Impact, which already offers movie and TV content from NBC Universal along with an assortment of music from both major and independent labels, will rent library movie titles for $2.99 and new releases for $3.99. While the content must be viewed within 24 hours of starting to watch a TV show or movie, a downloaded program can be stored for up to 30 days before viewing, says Taunia Kipp, VP of business strategy for Wurld Media.

Fox already sells shows such as 24 through both iTunes and MySpace, and Warner Bros. has recently announced deals with file-sharing concerns BitTorrent and Guba. But Wurld Media's 99 cent rental price point is almost half the $1.99 benchmark price charged to download most programs for long-term use, and Kipp says the company hopes to maintain the 99-cent rental price even as it gets newer TV content. She notes that Peer Impact members whose computers are used to help distribute a program also get "Peer Cash" rewards that can knock up to 5% off a future rental.

In prepared statements, studio executives declared that the Peer Impact service simply represents yet another digital delivery option.

"This is another step in our overall strategy to bring the world's premiere content to our audience on emerging digital platforms,” said Peter Levinsohn, president, Fox Digital Media. “Through this deal, we can enjoy the benefits of peer-to-peer technology while offering yet another legitimate alternative to illegal pirate networks."

“People are increasingly turning to the Internet to view all forms of video, including episodic TV series and movies,” added Jim Wuthrich, senior VP, Digital Distribution. “Our association with Peer Impact continues to expand the number of options available to our fans to receive and view our content.”