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RealNetworks, Starz enter movie deal

A new service, scheduled to launch in the spring, will let consumers download movies onto their PCs using the RealOne player and watch them on their televisions.

TV network Starz Encore will offer movies online under a deal with Real Networks.

The new service, scheduled to launch in the spring, will let consumers download movies onto their PCs using Real's RealOne player. The movies will be encoded in RealVideo 9. Consumers will also be able to watch the movies on their televisions

Starz, which offers movie channels via cable and satellite, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media. More than 100 movies per month will be available to consumers through the Starz On Demand network. Specific prices will not be announced until next year, the company said.

"With our emphasis on theatrical movies, now all on demand for a low monthly fee, this service will fuel the growth of broadband, particularly cable modem sales," Starz CEO John Sie said Wednesday in a statement.

Movies on demand have long been promised as one of the "cool Internet applications" that will be coming to consumers, but slow download speeds and other technological obstacles have prevented services from taking off so far.

Online film distributor Intertainer closed in October, shutting off service to its roughly 150,000 subscribers. That company alleged that the motion picture industry had hindered its attempts to deliver service.

But companies are still testing the market. Last month, MovieLink, a joint project of MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers Studios, was launched, offering a selection of first-run and classic films online.

Separately Wednesday, Real Networks announced it is offering a free two-day trial period for its RealOne SuperPass. That service allows consumers to watch programming from ABCNews, CNN, E Networks, FoxSports and the NBA on their computers. The promotion runs Wednesday and Thursday. The service normally costs $24.85 per quarter.