Movielink taps IBM for managed hosting services

Movielink LLC, a company that will let consumers in the U.S. download full-length movies from the Internet to their PCs, has chosen IBM Corp. as its provider of managed hosting services, Movielink announced Monday.

IBM will provide various services, including Web site development, technical advice, systems operations and network management, to Movielink, a joint venture between five major movie studios, according to the Movielink statement and a spokeswoman for Armonk, New York-based IBM.

Movielink plans to launch its service in the fourth quarter, delivering movies initially to PCs and later to other devices. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment Inc., Universal Studios Inc. and Warner Bros. Movie announced the creation of Movielink in August 2001.

The on-demand distribution service will deliver theatrically released movies from a variety of genres, such as comedy, classics and drama, to U.S. consumers with broadband connections, according to Santa Monica, California-based Movielink.

The project's main IT challenge has been to design a service that is user-friendly and intuitive, since Movielink is not aiming for "technology buffs" but rather for the "mass" audience of U.S. consumers who know the basics of using a PC and have a broadband connection, John Godwin, Movielink's chief technology officer, said. Movielink estimates there are about 10 million households in the U.S. with a broadband connection.

He described the three-year deal as "a traditional, straightforward hosting arrangement" and said the company chose IBM because it believes Big Blue is a stable vendor that can provide reliable service,Godwin said.

Movielink, at http://www.movielink.com, will be structured as an online movie rental service, so users will be able to play the downloaded movie for a limited time, after which the file will become unviewable, Godwin said. Movielink expects to make further IT-related announcements, about areas such as content and the movies' picture quality, as its launch date approaches, Godwin said. The copy-protected films could be viewed on the PC or on a television set hooked to the PC; the company later will add the capability to deliver the movies to other devices.

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