DirecTV mulls DVD killer VOD

US reports say DirecTV is in advanced talks to be Hollywood’s first partner for early video-on-demand. The satellite TV company may be the first distributor to launch so-called premium VOD, through which consumers would pay about $30 to rent a movie via the Internet or cable 60 days after it opened in theatres and at least a month before it would become available on DVD.

The plan represents a significant step in Hollywood’s strategy to make movies available in the home earlier and in new ways to generate fresh revenue as DVD sales continue to fall and domestic box office has been stagnant. It has previously taken a minimum of three months for films to move from theatres to VoD.

DirecTV is looking to introduce its product by the end of June with movies from 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Walt Disney Pictures is also in talks to join the initiative, the people said, while Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures are not expected to participate initially.

The idea has provoked a hostile response from cinema chains: “If a film has a four-to-six week window to a home, we’re not going to give it screen time,” said Amy Miles, chief executive of the nation’s largest theatre chain, Regal Entertainment. “That’s outside the realm of any conversation we have had with the studios.”