REDMOND, Wash., March 28, 2001 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that more than 18 million movies have been distributed to online viewers using Microsoft® Windows Media™ Technologies, demonstrating that film industry pioneers are turning to Windows Media to build sustainable businesses distributing video content online. Leading content providers now are delivering more than 2 million movies a month in Windows Media Format – and gaining revenue today from their online viewers.
In addition, Microsoft today announced that companies like ALWAYSi, CinemaNow Inc., FILMSPEED, Intertainer Inc., Kanakaris Wireless and SightSound Technologies have announced plans to release thousands of hours of movie content using Windows Media Video 8, Microsoft’s newest video compression technology, released today.
With Windows Media Video 8, the first motion-picture-ready video codec, these industry trendsetters will benefit further from the sharp picture quality and lower distribution costs, all with the near-universal reach and integrated digital rights management (DRM) technology offered by Windows Media.
“Last year we saw digital music go mainstream; this year and next we will see the same thing happen with digital movies,”
said Dave Fester, general manager of marketing for the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft.
“The advances in video compression we have achieved with Windows Media Video 8 mark a turning point – it is now possible to deliver a compelling, full-screen video experience over today’s broadband connections.”
Audiences Are Ready
The promise of video on demand has been clear for more than a decade, but network capacity and technical obstacles have delayed broad deployment of such services. Over the past few months, though, companies have begun commercial distribution of feature films over the Internet to PCs, television set-top boxes and even cinemas. Initial results demonstrate that audiences are ready for the convenience of having film content delivered to them when they want it:
ALWAYSi recently unveiled a subscription service that allows unlimited access to its library of more than 2,000 films and announced today that it will upgrade its entire film library to Windows Media Video 8.
CinemaNow delivers approximately 300,000 Windows Media Format movie streams to about 50,000 unique visitors per week, with approximately two-thirds of the viewers connecting at rates of 100 Kbps or above. CinemaNow features an online library of more than 200 films and is encoding more than 100 of its titles in Windows Media Video 8.
FILMSPEED has delivered more than 100,000 complete feature-length movie downloads using its DownPlay packaging and Windows Media to provide a DVD-like viewing experience to Internet viewers, with related links, background information and quick links to key scenes. FILMSPEED also has recorded more than 1 million movie streams since last fall and is actively securing movie content for distribution on peer-to-peer networks.
Intertainer, which offers DSL subscribers a selection of 65,000 hours of films and television content from studios including Warner Bros., Universal Studios, New Line Cinema, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and DreamWorks SKG, is adopting Windows Media Video 8. Intertainer and ZoomTown.com, the wholly owned subsidiary of Broadwing Inc., announced yesterday that ZoomTown.com will be the nation’s first broadband provider to deploy a video-on-demand service systemwide to more than 40,000 subscribers.
Kanakaris Wireless/CinemaPop has more than 500 film titles available for streaming in Windows Media Format and is offering many of them in Windows Media Video 8. CinemaPop.com has delivered almost 5 million movie streams, with more than half at broadband rates.
SightSound is using Windows Media Video 8 in a commercial digital-cinema trial to deliver
to theaters over the Internet. The trial demonstrates both the versatility of Windows Media DRM and, at a screen resolution of 1280×1024 pixels, the high-definition pictures possible with the new compression technology. SightSound also is distributing 12 movies from Miramax Film Corp. as Internet download rentals as well as episodes of
The Miramax movie
received its Internet premiere during this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Content from these and other providers is available in the WindowsMedia.com Movie Guide at http://WindowsMedia.com/ .
Technology to Meet the Industry’s Needs
Windows Media Video 8, released today, provides the film industry with the core technology it needs to capitalize on digital distribution to homes and cinemas. Its advanced compression delivers full-screen, near-DVD-quality video at rates as low as 500 Kbps – a realistic rate for today’s broadband connections and a 30 percent improvement over the previous version of the technology. Better compression means not only a better experience for the customer, but also lower storage and bandwidth costs.
Windows Media Video 8 also offers integrated digital rights management, so customers get a seamless experience without the need to download plug-ins. And with more than 240 million copies of rights-capable Windows Media players distributed, content providers are assured of a broad potential audience.
For home viewers, the next step is to bring Internet-based content to the familiar television screen. Streaming-capable set-top boxes make it possible for viewers to watch personal videos and online content on their television. And Microsoft Windows® XP, the next-generation Windows operating system, includes technology that greatly simplifies the task of building and connecting devices for audio and video content.
About Windows Media
Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, providing unmatched audio and video quality to consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations. Windows Media offers the industry’s only integrated rights-management solution and the most scalable and reliable streaming technology tested by independent labs. Windows Media Technologies includes Windows Media Player for consumers, Windows Media Services for servers, Windows Media Tools for content creation, and the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft, Windows Media and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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