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BT to offer Universal movie downloads

Service starts next week

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BT has signed up for Universal's movie download package. The deal will allow the telco to sell PC-only full-length films online from the end of this month.

It's essentially the same package UK online video reseller Lovefilm.com announced in March this year. Some 150 Universal titles will be made available to downloaders, who can pay to receive not only a PC-friendly copy but a PMP-formatted version too. A copy of the original DVD will be sent to them through the post.

BT will offer the downloads through its BTVision subscription-free video-on-demand service, which is linked to the telco's broadband offering. Indeed, the Universal deal also extends to VoD content pumped down the phonelines to a BT-branded, Philips-made broadband-connected set-top box.

BT didn't say how much the downloads will cost. However, Lovefilm.com charges around £20, so you're effectively buying the DVD and getting the ripping done for you, for free. Since the DVDs themselves can often be bought for much less than that, especially if you shop around, it's questionable what the value of the service is, though it does allow Universal to count each download as a DVD purchase for chart data. ®

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