Movielink, a venture backed by five Hollywood film studios, lets people pay to download and watch feature-length films on a PC. Its partnership with Intel will give it more muscle in promoting the service, and it will give it a inside edge on emerging technologies designed to let people transfer films wirelessly from the PC to the TV.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"We are committed to making digital entertainment part of the fabric of daily living, and Intel makes this possible by supporting today?s home networked environment," said Jim Ramo, chief executive of Movielink.
Broadband entertainment is becoming more and more popular with consumers. More than 20 million people in the United States connect to the Internet via broadband, and they're increasingly looking to the PC for entertainment. The PC screen is still widely seen as limited for watching movies, but companies like Movielink are exploring ways to allow people to point and click and then watch films on the TV.
Last year, MicrosoftWindows XP Media Center Edition 2004, a version of the operating system designed for entertainment PCs. The software makes it easier for people to rent movies from Movielink, or rival CinemaNow, download them to their PC and then watch them on their TV set.
As part of the Intel-Movielink deal, the companies will explore various content-protection technologies to be used in the wireless transfer of films from a home PC to a television set. They said that they will look for content protection that works seamlessly with digital media adapters (DMAs), or connectors that allow the transfer of data among various electronic devices.
Intel is developing a prototype of an Internet Protocol-enabled DMA. Movielink will support the Intel project with technical information, such as user scenarios.
Marketing plays a large role in the deal, too. Intel will sponsor and promote Movielink's college Web site, which gives college students lower rental rates for online films. In addition, the chipmaker will promote Movielink at major retail outlets that sell PCs based on the Intel Pentium 4 processor with HT Technology. The companies plan to advertise jointly in print and in online media.
Intel has been a sponsor of the"Winter Movie Special." The five-week program, which runs through Feb. 26, lets AOL for Broadband members download and rent movies for 99 cents. Movielink is backed by MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures and Universal Studios.