NTL is to launch a pure video-on demand (VOD) service offering movies, music, children’s and adult programming, as well as a personal video recorder (PVR), early next year.
The cable operator has confirmed to analysts that it will be launching the VOD service, called ntl:on demand, in the first quarter of 2005.
Unlike Sky’s pay-per-view Box Office service and Telewest and NTL’s equivalent Front Row service, ntl:on demand will allow NTL’s digital television subscribers to watch the requested content immediately, rather than waiting for a set showing.
Viewers will also have access to a back-catalogue of hundreds of films, rather than having their choice limited to new releases. The VOD service will allow viewers to rewind, fast-forward, pause and repeat the content during the rental period, which is likely to be 24 hours.
The VOD service will be the first to be made available to a mass market and will be rolled out one region at a time. The only other VOD provider in the UK is Video Networks, whose HomeChoice is only available to 1.25 million homes in parts of London. HomeChoice charges £3.50 to watch a new release, up to £2.50 for an older film and £5 for access to up to 50 films a month.
Next year, NTL will also launch a PVR with similar functionality to BSkyB’s Sky Plus, which allows viewers to start watching programmes that are being recorded and to rewind and pause them.