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Telewest Broadband Launches First Wave of TV-on-Demand Services with FilmFlex; Bristol Launch Marks First Stage of UK Roll-out


WEBWIRE

LONDON, UK -- 1/18/2005 -- Telewest Broadband has today launched a movies-on-demand service, provided by FilmFlex*, to its digital television customers in Bristol. Movies-on-demand marks the first phase of the cable company’s plans to launch a wider choice of TV-on-demand services in 2005.

The new service will initially be available to over 2,100 digital TV customers. They will be the cable company’s first customers to be able to watch the latest films whenever they want, through their existing cable set-top box, simply by using their remote control.

The movies-on-demand service also provides the same controls as watching a DVD or video - once a film is ordered, customers can watch it when they want, pause, fast forward and rewind. A wide range of films will be available, for a set 24-hour rental period, at launch.

Eric Tveter, president and chief operating officer at Telewest Broadband, said: "We’re transforming TV as we know it by launching a truly on-demand movie service, with DVD functionality. And this is only the first step - we plan to ramp up our TV-on-demand services over the year with additional TV, music and niche content to appeal to all of our one million digital TV customers.

“This new service puts consumers in control, giving them the freedom to watch the movies they want, whenever they want to watch them. It’s simply the easiest way to enjoy a movie and there’s no need to visit the video store, miss the end of a film or pay late fees ever again.”

The core involvement of major and independent film studios positions FilmFlex with a unique quality and breadth of film titles on offer. FilmFlex will initially launch its service with a range of new release titles including 50 First Dates, Kill Bill: Volume 2, Gothika, Hildago, The Station Agent, and Welcome to the Jungle. There will also be UK TV premieres coming onto the service in February including Spider-Man 2 and King Arthur.

FilmFlex will be offering film titles from the libraries of Sony Pictures Television International, Sony Classics, Walt Disney Television International, Pathe’, Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Film Corporation, Buena Vista International Inc., Columbia Pictures, TriStar and Icon. Further content deals with major and independent film studios will be announced as the FilmFlex service continues to expand across the UK.

Andy Birchall, Chairman ON Demand Group commented: “After three years in development, FilmFlex is delighted that this initiative has resulted in a stunning, breakthrough VOD service for cable viewers in the UK. FilmFlex is the first UK movies on demand service to have the backing of two major Hollywood entertainment companies behind it, which combined with content from other major and independent film studios, will deliver a top quality consumer experience.”

Telewest Broadband is investing around GBP 20 million in the development of TV-on-demand and personal video recorder (PVR) services in 2005. Starting in the summer, the cable company plans to roll out TV-on-demand services to digital TV customers, region by region.

Consumers can find out more about Telewest Broadband’s bundle of digital TV, broadband Internet and telephone services at www.telewest.co.uk.

Notes to Editors:

FilmFlex, formerly known as MovieCo, is the movie Video on Demand offering from MovieCo, the joint venture initiative between Sony Pictures Television International (a Sony Pictures Entertainment company), Walt Disney Television International (a division of The Walt Disney Company Ltd) and the On Demand Group. The European Commission formally approved the submission from MovieCo/FilmFlex for the creation of a joint venture to provide VOD film service in the United Kingdom on 12 November 2004.

Telewest, the broadband communications and media group, currently passes and markets to 4.7 million homes and provides multi-channel television, telephone and internet services to 1.76 million residential customers.

About FilmFlex

Sony Pictures Television International

Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI) operates three complementary lines of business: 1) distribution of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s (SPE) feature films and television programming to television outlets around the world, 2) local television production in key international markets, and 3) international television networks. In addition to being a leader in the distribution of current and classic U.S. and international films and television product worldwide, SPTI produces high profile, locally produced television in local languages. With dedicated offices in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Miami (Latin America), Spain and the United Kingdom, SPTI currently oversees production in seven regions. SPTI’s worldwide television networks portfolio is a key strategy in the Company’s long-range commitment to the global marketplace, with over 35 networks in more than 100 countries reaching over 240 million viewers worldwide. SPTI is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.

The Walt Disney Company Ltd, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company

Walt Disney Television International is responsible for all The Walt Disney Company’s free and pay television activities outside the U.S.A. These activities include branded and non-branded programme distribution through Buena Vista International Television, production and broadcasting, including the development and management of Disney Channels and other media investments.

On Demand Group

The On Demand Group was formed in 1995 as a unique company specialising in managing and providing full turn-key transactional television services and solutions to telecommunications and media organisations. The Group has created a range of pay per view, near video on demand and full video on demand businesses for clients in the UK and Europe. The range of services includes service development and operation, content acquisition and aggregation, content management, TV production, advertising and promotion, analysis, and software and service integration. ODG’s clients include Front Row, Telenet in Belgium, Telecom Italia, and Mirador in Spain. Seachange, the world’s leading VOD server supplier is a major investor in the Group.

How does movies-on-demand work?

Customers will not require any new equipment. Telewest Broadband has storage hardware at regional locations within our cable network, where we can hold large numbers of movies. Our movies-on-demand service makes all the material available to the viewer at home, and at the touch of a button.

A simple on-screen menu, navigated by our standard TV remote control, allows the customer to browse a menu of movies before purchasing their chosen film for 24 hours. They can even watch a trailer of each film before making their decision.

The movie is then played out via their existing Telewest Broadband TV set-top box, through our ultra-fast cable network. Once the movie is selected our customers can choose when to start watching it, as well as control the viewing with pause, rewind and fast forward functionality. You can watch the movie(s) when you like, as many times as you like.

The fees for films will simply be added to the customer’s monthly Telewest Broadband bill. Parental control/PIN protection is available with the service.

More information

For further information go to http://mediacentre.telewest.co.uk

High-resolution images are available for the media to download, free of charge, at www.vismedia.co.uk

* FilmFlex is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Television International (a Sony Pictures Entertainment company), Walt Disney Television International (a division of The Walt Disney Company Ltd) and the On Demand Group



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