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Pay-per-view films on a PC near you

Video-on-demand provider Kanakaris is striving to transform the way people watch movies--but can it differentiate itself from the competition?

Video-on-demand provider Kanakaris Wireless said Wednesday it will offer movie buffs feature films on its Web site,

The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company said its service offers people the option of watching full-length flicks in a streaming or downloadable format via a high-speed Internet connection. Until now, Kanakaris' content has been available only in a streaming format.

People can access the films with their PCs on a pay-per-view basis for either $1.99 or $2.99, which gives consumers unlimited access to the film for two days. Consumers can also choose to pay a membership fee of $4.95 a month for access to more than 100 films.

Although Kanakaris is striving to transform the way people watch films, it enters a crowded field marked by competitive players. Lions Gate Entertainment-backed CinemaNow and Intertainer this week announced separately that they have tapped MGM Home Entertainment to showcase popular MGM films. In addition, Intertainer last year secured rights to Universal Studios' pay-per-view films.

Forming ties with major studios and licensing their content has been a major obstacle for video-on-demand providers. And the service has yet to become a blockbuster hit among consumers. Analysts said the key ingredients for success are the quality of movies and the technology.

"It's still unproven that people are...interested in paying for a video-on-demand service delivered to their PCs," said Jupiter Research analyst Joe Laszlo. Video-on-demand services "could well replace going to Blockbuster, which VOD wants to be. But I don't think it's quite there in the eyes of consumers right now...(and) I don't think there's been a clear kind of gold-medal winner in the VOD space yet."

Still, Kanakaris is aiming to get a foothold in the market. Last year, the company debuted AK.TV, a Web-based TV station accessible by wireless devices such as Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system. People can access TV programming--mostly Grade B movies and IKEA infomercials--through AK.TV.