The Walt Disney Company has resurrected MovieBeam, a service that uses broadcast spectrum to deliver movies to special set-tops outfitted with hard drives.
Although MovieBeam will continue to stock movies and other content, the new version of the service will also support "select" titles in high-definition television format and, giving it the jump on cable-delivered VOD, will release Disney flicks in the earlier DVD window.
MovieBeam relaunched with availability in 29 "major" markets, including Boston, Denver, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, giving it a footprint covering roughly half of all U.S. homes. In 2003, MovieBeam got off the ground in just a handful of markets: Spokane, Wash.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. Disney temporarily shelved MovieBeam last spring.
MovieBeam is also back with two new investors: Intel Capital and Cisco Systems.
The new version of the service will ship boxes with 100 movies pre-loaded on the hard drive. Another 10 titles will be delivered each week by datacasting them to an indoor antenna that feeds into the MovieBeam set-top. Later on, MovieBeam is expected to leverage the box's on-board Ethernet capability for content downloads and distributing content to other supported devices.