Expected to kick off in October.
Fox Interactive Media is set to confirm today (Aug. 14) that beginning in October its online properties will sell movies day-and-date with their DVD release.
The first sales will go through Direct2Drive, one of the lesser-known brands included in News Corp.'s $650 million purchase of Intermix Media a year ago. A spokeswoman for FIM said the capability will spread across MySpace, such other IGN Entertainment sites as RottenTomatoes and Film Force, and elsewhere in the FIM network.
Some of the first titles to go on sale this way are "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "Thank You for Smoking," due Oct. 3; "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," scheduled for Oct. 10; and "The Omen," due Oct. 17.
Television programs also are included in the move, with such Fox shows as "24" and "Prison Break" and FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" becoming available within 24 hours of broadcast.
"Our drive to deliver 20th Century Fox content via the most powerful online platforms is advanced substantially by this agreement," said Peter Levinsohn, president digital media at Fox Entertainment Group. "Offering Fox content in conjunction with FIM properties enables viewers to access the best movies and TV shows from multiple platforms in the Fox family."
Movies downloaded from FIM sites will sell for about $20 and TV shows for $1.99 an episode. Direct2Drive has fewer than 1 million unique users a month with an average spend of $30.
Fox already sells "24," "Prison Break" and other shows through Apple's iTunes Music Store for $1.99 per episode in a format that makes them watchable on a computer or on one of Apple's hugely popular video iPods.
Direct2Drive downloads will be in Microsoft's Windows Media format, making them watchable on computers or any other Windows-based device, including portable media players, mobile phones and Microsoft's recently announced Zune players.
Each purchase entitles the consumer to put the movie or TV show on two computers and one portable device per computer.
Jamie Berger, vp and general manager of IGN Entertainment Consumer Products, first spoke officially about future movie and TV downloads in May. IGN has been doing digital distribution for six years, beginning with game maps and patches but building up to the games it now offers, most of which cost $20-$50 and many of which require files larger than a DVD (HR 5/8).
The Direct2Drive platform already has been used elsewhere. It powered the download-to-own sales of "24" on MySpace, for example, as well as the Burger King-sponsored free downloads of "24," Fuel TV's "Firsthand" and Speed Channel's "Pinks" in May.
It also provided the technology that enabled AmericanIdol.com to sell audio and video clips. Additionally, Direct2Drive provides its platform on a white label basis outside of FIM to companies like high-performance computer company Alienware.
"Today marks an important step as we continue to build a bridge between the worlds of user-generated and top-quality, professional content, further enhancing our range of consumer offerings across both free, ad-supported and paid download business models," FIM president Ross Levinsohn said.