SureWest Communications has upgraded its SeaChange VOD service, adding the ability to support online commerce. VOD navigation will also be improved.

In its Kansas City system, SureWest is deploying VODlink 5.0, the latest generation of SeaChange's VOD software applications platform. SureWest will use Watch & Buy, a feature that allows subscribers to purchase DVD and Blu-ray versions of on-demand streamed movies.

With this setup, the discs get mailed directly to subscribers who place an order. Customers are able to purchase films on the same day they debut on VOD.

The service will initially cover only some movies from a single studio: Warner Bros. SeaChange has configured several first-run titles from studios for disc purchase in Kansas City the same day they are released for VOD viewing, including "Arthur," "Hall Pass," "Something Borrowed," "Sucker Punch," "Red Riding Hood" and "Unknown," the vendor said.

As VODlink is integrated with SeaChange's Axiom On Demand VOD back office, SureWest can work with other third-party VOD products.

VODlink 5.0 will also improve SureWest's VOD navigation and program launch times, along with enhancing graphics capabilities.

"SureWest is operating in an intensely competitive market in Kansas City, and we see our upgrade to VODlink 5.0 and the launch of Watch & Buy as a significant step in differentiating the services and experiences we can offer to current and potential subscribers," said Ken Johnson, vice president and chief technology officer at SureWest.

Watch & Buy includes a lightweight set-top application, user interface customization and fully managed back-end order fulfillment. A DVD symbol appearing next to select titles in an operator's VOD library alerts subscribers that the title is also available for purchase as a DVD or download. Subscribers may be presented with the opportunity to order DVDs in different formats, such as Blu-ray.