WB signs on for Aussie pay-TV

Foxtel reels in pix for near-VOD service

SYDNEY — Warner Bros. is the latest U.S. major to license its films to Foxtel Boxoffice, the Aussie pay TV platform’s near-VOD service that launched March 14.

Warner joins Paramount, Disney, Fox and Roadshow (New Line’s Oz distrib, which also releases Warner-Village Roadshow Pictures output, such as “The Matrix” franchise and “Taking Lives”) as suppliers to the service, which airs firstrun movies every 30 minutes on 27 channels.

Neither WB nor Foxtel has announced the pact but word surfaced in broadcasting circles late last week.

Warner deal is believed to provide for a three-month window between its films’ DVD/video release and near-VOD preem, down from the customary six months. Move may encourage other distribs to follow suit.

Foxtel is charging A$5.95 ($4.46) per movie. Subscribers to the premium package are entitled to two viewings per month.

The paybox co-owned by News Corp., Kerry Packer’s Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. and telco Telstra has been bowled over by the response to Foxtel Digital, having signed 209,000 digital subscribers.

Foxtel CEO Kim Williams is confident at least 500,000 homes will be connected to the new service by the end of the year, repping about half the platform’s current homes.