Video on demand edges closer for Australians

Foxtel and Austar have revealed plans to offer near-video-on-demand (VOD) level service following the completion of digital upgrades to the pairs' networks.The new service called Box Office comprises 30 channels dedicated to broadcasting a small number of movies continuously staggered at 15 to 30 minute intervals.

Foxtel and Austar have revealed plans to offer near-video-on-demand (VOD) level service following the completion of digital upgrades to the pairs' networks.

The new service called Box Office comprises 30 channels dedicated to broadcasting a small number of movies continuously staggered at 15 to 30 minute intervals. While the service doesn't quite meet the definition of VOD it greatly improves subscribers' chances of catching a featured film.

Both Foxtel and Austar announced the new service whilst revealing overall plans yesterday for the enhanced digital pay TV services the pay TV provider have been cooperating to build over the last six months.

Immediately following the launch, which is expected to take place in the first half of 2004, Foxtel will expand its current offering to 130 channels including the Box Office service.

A range of interactive services will also be added to their offerings. Subscribers will be able to customise their news service, and some sports events will offer multiple camera angles and access to additional statistics.

Regional digital satellite Pay TV provider Austar, which partnered Foxtel in the upgrade, will launch its enhanced digital service an extra 20 channels. It will roll-out interactive services slowly as it builds applications to match the new range of capabilities built into the network.

Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams is hoping the upgrade will help Foxtel achieve 35 to 40 per cent market penetration by 2008 and help boost Australia's uptake of digital television in Australia.

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