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Flexplay muscles in on disposable-DVD

Ball will spearhead West Coast business

HOLLYWOOD — As Disney continues to test disposable DVDs in various markets, the company with which it’s partnered on the technology, New York-based Flexplay Technologies, is setting up an office in Los Angeles to pursue similar deals with other studios and entertainment companies.

Charles L. Ball Jr. has been named exec VP, studio relations and business development. Based at the company’s new Culver City office, he will spearhead all West Coast business opportunities.

Flexplay had offered a potential solution to the Academy screener issue over piracy concerns last year with its ability to deliver DVD screeners that can be set to become unwatchable after a few hours, days or weeks. The offer was eventually rejected, but Flexplay hopes to revisit the proposition with studios this year.

Meanwhile, the company’s primary focus is on offering studios a way to deliver their movies to new outlets like convenience stores and pizza delivery shops by offering a DVD that’s priced comparably to a rental fee but does not require the user to return the disc or pay a late fee.

Disney has been testing that strategy in several markets since last year with a product marketed under the name ez-D.

Flexplay is also in discussions with videogame and computer software companies about using the technology to deliver promo discs that allow consumers to experience a fully functional demo for a limited time before buying the game or program. Flexplay also hopes to capitalize on the increasing use of DVDs as a promotional and marketing tool for everything from movies and TV programming to car dealerships.

Ball brings more than 20 years of marketing and management experience to Flexplay from companies such as Disney, Schering-Plough HCP and Procter & Gamble. Before joining Flexplay, Ball served as founding principal of StormThink, a strategic marketing consulting consortium within the convergence technology and new media categories. Previously, he was president of Education.com North America — a division of Vivendi Universal Internet Group.

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