Ondigital seals PPV pact, posts sub hike

New pay-per-view service named Onrequest

LONDON — Ondigital has sealed its long-anticipated deal with yet-to-launch digital platform SDN to supply pay-per-view movie services.

The terrestrial pay TV platform — co-owned by ITV network companies Carlton and Granada — has also announced it now has 552,000 subscribers, a gain of 34% since the end of September.

Onrequest, as the new PPV service will be called, will be owned 50/50 by SDN and Ondigital and will launch in the spring using five channels of SDN’s capacity. (Ondigital offers over 30 channels, including the U.K.’s free-to-air services.)

More deals expected

Stuart Prebble, Ondigital’s chief exec, said negotiations for content with Hollywood were “a long way advanced” and that he expected to announce two or three deals with studios within weeks. He added that the current number of subs puts Ondigital on track to hit its break-even goal of 2 million customers in 2002.

Rival SkyDigital, satcaster BSkyB’s 140-channel platform, has yet to reveal its 1999 results but had 1.8 million subs as of Oct. 15. Of these, 45%, or 810,000, were new as opposed to migrants from analog.

Also in the pipeline for Ondigital is Onmail, an e-mail service — due in early 2000 — and interactive services including Internet.

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