British Telecommunications Plc’s delayed video-on-demand market trial, originally scheduled for launch last January (CI No 2,545), has moved a few steps forward, with the announcment of provisional prices for services and the start of recruitment of 2,500 pilot customers in the Colchester and Ipswich areas (CI No 2,691). For ú5 a month, customers will get […]
British Telecommunications Plc’s delayed video-on-demand market trial, originally scheduled for launch last January (CI No 2,545), has moved a few steps forward, with the announcment of provisional prices for services and the start of recruitment of 2,500 pilot customers in the Colchester and Ipswich areas (CI No 2,691). For ú5 a month, customers will get a basic service that will include on-demand access to day-old UK soaps such as East Enders and Coronation Street, and old favourites such as Brideshead Revisited and David Attenborough’s Life on Earth. Films will be charged on a pay-per-view basis at between ú1.50 and ú4 a time, and around 500 will be available. Pop videos will cost between ú1 and ú4 each for a day, or unlimited access will be granted for a ú6 monthly fee. Children’s programming will also cost extra. Alongside the straight video-on-demand, the company will offer a variety of Nintendo Co games, for between ú1 and ú4 or for a monthly fee of ú7. However British Telecom said it will be testing a number of pricing strategies during the trial to look at price elasticities. The television set-top box, a cut-down Mac from Apple Computer Inc running Mac OS modified to support MPEG and a 2Mbps network interface, will be linked to Oracle Media Server software on an nCube Corp massively parallel machine, controlled by a Sequent Computer Systems Inc Unix box. There will also be an Electronic Data Interchange gateway to the server to support the banking application. The kit will be provided to the guinea pigs for free, but would probably cost about the same as a satellite receiver should the trial turn into a full commercial service. There’s no comment from the company as to how long the trial is to last or when a full commercial service might be available. Most of the triallists, who will be selected by a market research company, will be connected by standard copper phone wires, but 500 of the households will have fibre optic links. The company said it has lined up more than 100 content providers. Movie studios include Columbia/Tristar, Handmade films, Lumiere, MCA, MGM/UA, PolyGram, Rank, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney and Warner Brothers. The interactive television segment of the trial will comprise nine services: movies-on-demand; television programming-on-demand; children’s and educational television; music videos; local news services; and an electronic high street for home shopping and banking. There will also be video games-on-demand and interactive advertising services. A monthly subscription will cost from ú3 for children’s television, through to ú7 for unlimited access to games. Monthly subscriptions will not be available for films.