Starz Ent. Group Llc. (SEG) announced the premiere of Vongo a new video download application and service for broadband that delivers movies and other video content over the Internet for playback on Windows-based PCs, laptops and select portable media devices, as well as on a TV.
"Vongo will provide the key content application that will drive a new era in portable video delivered over the Internet," said Robert B. Clasen, president/ceo of SEG. "By combining the wide array of programming choices on Vongo with a host of new portable media devices being announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, consumers will be able to seize control of their video and watch whatever, wherever and whenever they want."
Vongo subscribers will have unlimited access to more than 1,000 movies and video selections, as well as a live, streaming Starz TV channel, for a monthly cost of $9.99. Members may download movie and video selections to three eligible devices of their choice per account, allowing for multiple viewing options and family enjoyment. Additionally, select popular pay-per-view titles are available for $3.99 per movie. Vongo is available for broadband subscribers in the U.S. at www.vongo.com.
Starz also announced the first in a series of planned agreements that will extend Vongo's reach. Initial partners include Sony CONNECT and Microsoft. Sony CONNECT will make Vongo a cornerstone of its new CONNECT Video service, to be launched later this year. SEG worked with Microsoft to ensure that subscription video content from Vongo provides the highest-quality viewing experience.
"Based on the evolution of the digital entertainment space, we believe that Vongo will be the critical component in a new entertainment ecosystem; combining services, Vongo's advanced user interface (UI) and a new generation of devices to offer consumers a truly unique offering," said Bob Greene, svp, advanced services for SEG.
As one of the largest content aggregators in Hollywood, Starz has access to thousands of theatrical films including first-run hits and classics for Vongo upon launch from many of Hollywood's biggest studios.
Greg Maffei, ceo-elect of SEG parent company Liberty Media Corp., added "Liberty is excited about this new service from Starz, not only because of its potential revenue stream, but because it positions us as the content leaders in this new era of portable video and personal consumer choice. This re-defines what it means to 'go to the movies,' because with Vongo, the movies go with you. The lessons learned in developing and launching Vongo can apply to other segments of our company and to our sister enterprises both in the U.S. and overseas."
Clasen added, "Critical to this service are the Internet distribution rights we have acquired from our studio partners. We share with them a concern about the piracy over the Internet and so have built in a robust digital rights management system to ensure that only those who are authorized to use this service will do so. We also believe that by providing a convenient, affordable and legal way to access the best of Hollywood we will ensure that consumers will be much less likely to try to engage in video piracy."
"Exclusive and virtually unlimited access to 800-1000 movies per month is the programming foundation of the Vongo service," said Greene. "Adding a PPV option will bring consumers even more movies and will do so sooner as a result of the earlier window from Hollywood. With concerts, extreme sports, and in time, TV series, we see an opportunity to bring additional value and enjoyment to Vongo members, but subscription movies will remain the driver of the service. Vongo will expand significantly its non-movie content in time as we listen to feedback from our members and the content community."
The product will be showcased for interested media at CES in partner booths as well as at the Digital Media Experience at the Bellagio hotel on Jan. 4, 2006, from 7:00 10:00 pm.
Starz Ent. Group (www.starz.com) is the largest provider of premium movie services in the U.S. SEG offers 13 digital movie channels including the flagship Starz and Encore channels with approximately 14 million and 25 million subscribers respectively. Starz Ent. Group airs more than 750 movies per month across its pay TV channels and is a forerunner in offering its subscribers advanced services such as Starz HDTV, Starz On Demand and Vongo. Starz Ent. Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp.