AOL Video Adds Movie Downloads

by , Aug 25, 2006, 6:00 AM
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Hoping to boost its new video portal, AOL Thursday started selling downloads of full-length movies from four studios--20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

Initially, AOL will sell several hundred digital movies, ranging in price from $9.99 to $19.99. At launch, films available for purchase included "Spider Man 2," "Hitch," "Hostel," and "Black Hawk Down."

Fred McIntyre, vice president of AOL Video, said the company intends to pursue more deals with movie studios as it continues to build out its video portal, which officially launched earlier this month. "Our goal is to be the place that people think about when they want to find video online," McIntyre said.

AOL's entry into digital film sales comes as companies are fiercely competing for dominance in online video. Earlier this week, rival downloading site Guba slashed prices to $9.99 for new releases. Also, Wednesday Sony said it bolstered its foothold in online video with the purchase of video-sharing site Grouper Networks for $65 million. In addition to selling downloadable movies, AOL is adding several TV programs to its roster of shows available for sell or ad-supported viewing. Through a deal with Fox Entertainment Group, AOL will offer paid downloads of a host of TV shows including "24," "Prison Break," "Bones," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

AOL also now is streaming ad-supported versions of the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment TV shows including "Charlie's Angels," "Starsky & Hutch," and "SWAT."

Discover Financial Services has signed on as the exclusive sponsor of the video portal through the end of September; the company is promoting the Discover credit card.

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