Warner Bros. to Release Hollywood Movies Via Video-On-Demand in China

Warner Bros. has announced plans to become the first Hollywood studio to make its new release movies available digitally in China – pioneering VOD (transactional VOD) in what is already one of the world’s largest broadband markets. The joint announcement today was made by Marc Gareton, Executive Vice President, International, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Shao Yiding, CEO of Union Voole Technology in China.

In the first transactional VOD deal of its kind in China, Warner Bros.’ new release movies, including some that have never been released theatrically in China, will be available to Chinese consumers to rent on VOD to their PCs via Voole.com at a price of between 4 and 7 Rmb per title. Upcoming titles will include I Am Legend, Fool’s Gold and Speed Racer, with further new titles announced as they become available. A wide range of classic and library titles across films, TV series and special interest will also be available.

“We believe that China is a significant market for us to expand our digital distribution strategy and this partnership with Voole is an important first step in helping us to reach the broadest audience for our movies,” said Gareton. “I am proud of the team that made it possible for us to be the first US studio to offer this pioneering service, allowing fans of Warner Bros. movies in China to watch them when and how they want.”

There are an estimated 300 web sites offering video-watching or video-sharing services in China. However, only a tiny fraction of these sites offer feature length films, and even fewer actually own distribution rights to Hollywood movies. Now, for the first time, anyone who has Internet access in China will be able to rent Warner Bros. feature length blockbuster movies, viewable on their PC.

“The fast-growing Chinese market already has significant broadband usage, with a projected 230 million users by the end of 2008, said Tony Vaughan, Managing Director of Warner Bros’ Home Entertainment joint venture in China, CAV Warner. “Over 80 percent of the total China internet population has viewed online video content in the last six months alone, and now we can offer them a wider selection of top quality entertainment the way they want to watch it.”

Providing reliable, high quality, legitimate, DRM-protected digital movies to consumers on a timely basis is also an important part of Warner Bros. efforts to compete with piracy. For example Warner titles will offer the consumer a choice of original English soundtrack with subtitles or high quality Chinese language dub. Research has shown that this is a significant benefit versus pirated copies.

“We are delighted to be working with the Warner Bros. team in China to be leading the market in this way,” said Shao Yiding. “This new service will provide more convenience and choice to consumers, and at the same time, help us to combat piracy by offering great Warner Bros. movies in a high quality, legitimate format.”

Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD) was founded in October 2005 to manage Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group’s electronic distribution streams over existing, new and emerging digital platforms, including pay-per-view, electronic sell-through, transactional video-on-demand, sub scri ption video-on-demand, wireless and more. WBDD also oversees the WBHEG’s worldwide digital strategy, partnerships in digital services and emerging new clients and business activities in the digital space.

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