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Japan vid chain offers downloads

Co. to launch online service for pics next spring

TOKYO — Culture Convenience Club, which operates Japan’s biggest video rental chain, Tsutaya, will launch an online download service for pics next spring, the company said Tuesday.

CCC subsid Tsutaya BB will eventually offer streaming and downloadable VOD services, as well as sales. The line-up will include 1,000 pics, both Japanese and foreign.

Tsutaya BB will source the contents, prepare pics for downloading and manage online distribution.

Another CCC subsid, Tsutaya Discas, will supply the service on its site, where it operates a CD and DVD rental service for 1.74 million members.

Initially, Tsutaya Discas will offer only VOD. In the future, however, CCC plans to distribute pics via Tsutaya Online. CCC is also studying the launch of streaming and electronic sales for pics, both online and in Tsutaya stores.

Tsutaya stores served 19.3 million members as of the end of September, up 1.36 million or 7.6% compared with the same period the previous year. The stores recorded 416 million rentals in 2006, compared with 160 million theater admissions.

Meanwhile, Tsutaya Online had recruited 9.97 million members by the end of September, up 2.2 million or 28% over the same period the previous year.

Tsutaya operates 1,275 rental video stores through Japan, as well as 851 that also rent CDs, 441 that offer games and 353 that sell recycled DVDs and other packaged software.

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