Universal Pictures and Cameo Technologies, a digital video entertainment provider, are launching sneak peeks of upcoming films on PC screens.
Irvine, Calif.-based Cameo said Tuesday that Universal is participating in a test program in which trailers from Universal--including theatrical, DVD and VHS feature film releases and pay-per-view events--will be delivered to consumers' PCs using Cameo's digital video technology, dubbed CameoCast.
Cameo said its technology differs from others in that it does not stream videos from a Web site, but rather manages and stores them on a hard drive, eliminating the burden of large file downloads and the skipping of digital videos.
The announcement comes as online movie trailers are gaining momentum and--at the same time--sparking legal tangles over copyright infringement issues. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, a unit of Disney, on Tuesday is asking a judge to ban unauthorized use of some parts of its movie trailers that are being distributed online by Video Pipeline.
Despite the legal woes surrounding online movie trailers, analysts said that PC-based marketing is important in creating a buzz.
"Hollywood has recognized for almost a decade now that Web-based dialogues among consumers used to be word-of-mouth but is now called word-of-Web," said Richard Doherty, director of research for The Envisioneering Group, a Seaford, New York-based technology and research firm. "It helps tremendously in the initial weeks of marketing a movie...The problem is bandwidth. Broadband has not been there to allow the easy downloading of trailers."
Doherty said Cameo's technology is "a lot more dynamic" than a targeted banner ad because it?s in the background, and the hard disk makes up for the lack of bandwidth. But problems might arise when the technology runs on a shared network, he said.
If Cameo is downloading dozens of trailers, he said, the technology might end up taking most of the bandwidth--the same problem that plagued PointCast, whose bandwidth-intensive service was seen as too slow; several corporations cut ties with PointCast because the automatic broadcasts often congested local area networks.
Cameo, however, is betting that its service will appeal to consumers by allowing the hard drive to manage the quality of digital videos on the PC. In addition, the company said, consumers can view the digital video on the computer's full screen as opposed to a small window.
When people download Cameo's free desktop console player, Cameo automatically delivers the film clips and trailers onto consumers? hard drives. The company said the clips and trailers from Universal are delivered via excess bandwidth to individuals while they are connected to the Internet, regardless of connection speed. The desktop console player can then be played automatically during the screensaver or system start-up.
While Cameo said it is in discussions with other movie studios, it is also looking to expand the company?s offerings, including music, television, gaming and sports. The company said its business model is based on helping customers such as Universal promote content via the PC.
"It's an interesting market because what is promotion to the studios is entertainment to the audience," said Matt Milne, president of Cameo. "It puts our technology and company in a unique position to bring customers who want that content together with studios who want them to see it."
Cameo said that following its beta phase participation, Universal will begin a full business relationship with the company in which Cameo customers will be able to view content from Universal.
"Cameo technologies and applications represent a unique and powerful way for Universal Pictures to engage our audiences directly on their PCs," Kevin Campbell, Universal vice president, said in a statement. "Through Cameo, Universal's promotional content can be delivered and played on PCs at the highest video quality possible, rather than sacrificing a full entertainment experience for viewers through a small streaming Web window."