‘Starz! Ticket on Real’ Debuts Monday

More than 18 months ago, Starz Encore Group LLC announced a landmark deal with RealNetworks Inc. to bring a subscription-based movie service to broadband Internet customers.

Monday, that service is scheduled to go live, with “Starz! Ticket on Real” slated to become available to all U.S. broadband subscribers.

Priced at $12.95 per month, the service will carry 100 Starz! movies, plus additional network features.

RNI is handling all back-office responsibilities and billing management. Both partners are marketing the service on their respective Web sites.

For RNI, the service adds another piece of content to the programming puzzle. For Starz Encore, it represents a chance to move its pay TV content to another platform and provide cable operators with another sales tool for cable-modem service.

As Starz Encore concluded its output deals with the studios in the mid- to late-1990s, it procured both Internet and subscription-video-on-demand rights. Now that the SVOD deals are largely behind it, save for those with Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable, it was time to move on, Starz Encore president Robert Clasen said.

The programmer has deals with Walt Disney Pictures, Revolution Studios and Miramax. A new deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment will kick off in a few years, once a partial pact with Universal Studios concludes.

All told, network officials said, all of its new movies and 88% of its library product would be available for Starz! Ticket.

The service will operate on a weekly refreshment rate of 25%, with the rights window the same as that of SVOD service.

Subscribers can download any available movie and watch the content within a 24-hour period if they have a broadband connection of 600 kilobits per second or faster.

Once that period expires, the movie automatically is erased from the hard drive. But consumers are given three “viewing licenses” with each download.

If they start watching a movie but don’t complete their viewing, they can use another viewing license to watch. And even after three licenses, a subscriber can download more licenses.

Subscribers will have full DVD functionality with fast-forward, rewind and pause capabilities, and they’ll be able to watch movies in either full-screen or theater mode. Parental controls also are available.

For more on Starz! Ticket on Real, please see Matt Stump’s story on page 14 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.