Moviestar to launch download service
Irish-based online DVD rental company, Moviestar.ie, is set to launch a digital video-on-demand download service in May.
Moviestar Digital will allow customers to download movies and TV shows to their laptop, PC or portable media players with prices starting at EUR0.99 initially.
The company behind the service claims to have secured the rights to content from a number of Irish producers and to have a comprehensive film library in place. Moviestar.ie also claims to be currently in negotiations with the History and Biography channels and with a number of major Hollywood studios.
Moviestar.ie, which was launched just over a year ago by Gavin and Iain McConnon, allows subscribers to rent unlimited DVDs for a set monthly fee starting at EUR7.99. DVDs are posted to the user and can be sent back when they've finished watching the film or television series.
Moviestar.ie claims to have 28,000 customers and a EUR1.2 million turnover. It said it intends to grow its subscriber base to over 40,000 by mid-2008 and its new download service is one of the ways in which it hopes to gain new customers.
"This is very much a rental service rather than a download-to-own one because we feel that ultimately that's where the market is going to go with these things, so the product will expire on your PC after one month with the current catalogue," Moviestar.ie's co-founder Gavin McConnon told ENN.
McConnon outlined the companies with which Moviestar has signed content deals with. "We've secured a deal with Network Television Ireland which has a lot of Irish content -- mainly TV shows and admittedly, not the latest Hollywood stuff. We've also had discussions with people at Mipcom, which is the world's largest international audiovisual content trade show, and some of them require minimum guarantees so we've got to get a certain amount of volume going in terms of customers before we can get involved with them. We also have the History and Biography channels on board as well.
"We buy all our stock direct from the wholesalers who deal direct with all the big studios and they've no problems supplying us with content," he concluded.
The McConnon brothers have been around for a number of years and have somewhat of an interesting past. In 2006, a few months following the launch of Moviestar, the brothers were reported to film companies for breaching copyright by renting out retail DVDs, according to a report in the Sunday Business Post in 2006. The brothers are also directors of Promocom Ireland, which, following an investigation by the BBC's Inside Out programme in 2006, was accused by the Office of Fair Trading in Britain of running misleading prize promotions, while trading under a number of names.
The market for video-on-demand is expected to grow substantially in Ireland in the coming years. The McConnons predict the Irish online rental market will exceed 200,000 subscribers over the next five years resulting in a EUR35 million per annum business here.