DISNEY yesterday raised the prospect of broadcasting children’s television over the internet through a new online “channel” created in partnership with Optus.
The agreement between the Walt Disney Internet Group and Optus will see Disney re-work its international content in Sydney for delivery to subscribers to Optus’ cable and ADSL networks.
The agreement is non-exclusive, but Disney executives would not reveal if they were in discussions with other internet companies. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The new channel will offer streamed music, music videos, short television segments, movie trailers and interactive games, as well as traditional content such as computer “wallpaper”, screensavers and printable colouring pages.
The content will be available free to Optus broadband subscribers from July, while mobile content – including phone backgrounds, ring tones and games – will be subject to standard download charges.
Walt Disney Internet Group managing director international Mark Handler said feature films would not be available under the deal, but the company was considering whether to launch a movie service. Disney has a deal with Japan’s NTT allowing its subscribers to download movies to their PCs.
“We do not anticipate that online movies will be part of the basic service,” he said. “The company is doing a lot of work looking at various ways to make content available, but no decision has been made.
“Technically there is the possibility to download movies and get them to a TV. It’s a question of when and the business model.”
One of the big barriers to online movies is connection speed. Disney is recommending users of its new Optus service have at least a 512Kbps connection, although certain elements will be available to users with slower speeds.
Optus is using the service as a way of attracting more subscribers to its broadband network and as a promotional tool for Optus Vision pay television. The service includes a programming guide, and Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney video clips.
“This is symbolic of the transformation that’s happening with broadband,” Optus group director consumer products and delivery Chris Lane said. “The internet is not just about checking email any more, it’s about education and entertainment.”