BigPond makes splash in Australia

Telco Telstra and Sony Pictures Entertainment pacted Wednesday to launch BigPond Movies, Australia’s first broadband movies-on-demand service.

BigPond has more than 1,000 titles, from blockbusters like “Spider-Man” to classics like “Midnight Cowboy,” drawn from Sony affiliates Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems, Sony Classics, MGM and UA.

“Similar to a videostore, customers can ‘rent’ content to view as many times as they want in 24 hours or on a weekly basis. Once the rental period is over, the content is automatically deleted from their PC,” said BigPond topper Justin Milne.

Prices range from A$1.95 ($1.45) for short television shows to A$5.95 ($4.35) for recent feature films.

Telco said that while Sony is its “launch partner,” it is talking to other studios about coming on board. Indie distribs Dendy, Becker and Madman also will contribute content; the BigPond catalog will be updated monthly.

Service will get the jump on iTunes TV downloads in Oz, with shows such as “The Shield” and “Rescue Me” available the day after they are shown on free-to-air or feevee service Foxtel.

Thesp Toni Collette, on hand for the launch, said BigPond Movies “provides bigger potential audiences for small filmmakers and, importantly, as the first legal download service, it ensures the rights of artists and studios are protected in the online world.”

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