BT and Universal team up to offer video downloads (but with a free DVD!)

Digital set-top boxes, Home cinema, Wireless home

Big news from BT. Nope it is not the announcement of the launch of its broadband TV service BT Vision, that’s coming in the autumn, rather the company has announced a deal with Universal to offer the film company’s movies for downloads via its BT Vision website and, in the future, via its BT Vision set top box.

Starting from the end of July consumers will be able to download the movies from the BT Vision website to their PC paying between £7.99-16.99 for the privilege. The really odd bit is that for their money consumers not only get one copy for their PC and another which they can port onto a mobile device, they also get a DVD of the movie through the post a few days later. Dan Marks, CEO of BT Vision, suggested that this was because of research which showed that three times as many people would subscribe to the service if a hard copy was included.

The movies will be in a Windows media format and will play on any ‘plays for sure’ Windows Media compatible devices. Eddie Cunningham, chair universal Pictures UK, acknowledged that the BT deal was the first of many, so don’t rule out Universal movies on your iPod video then. The movies, the first of which will include King Kong and Pride & Prejudice, are around 1-2 Gigs in size and take from around ninety minutes to download on a two Meg connection.

While the website move makes sense for BT the big push will inevitably when BT launches its BT Vision set top box service in the autumn. There users will be able to download the Universal movies to their set top box. BT says too that users will be able to access the movies any time, and won’t necessarily need to store them on the BT Vision box’s hard disk.

(Display Name not set)
For latest tech stories go to


  • lets hope it works. We can do with a little more competition with sky who prices keep on going up and up.

  • I kind of agree with you Mark. I still prefer to buy CDs and rip Mp3s than give my money to Apple or Microsoft.

    However if you are pioneering digital video downloads it does appear to be a little weird to then offer a disc.

    I think they have got it right for now. But I bet the DVD part will be phased out within a year or so. It will be interesting to see if other movie studios copy the free DVD arrangement.

  • Why do you say “The really odd bit”? This suggests that BT’s market research is quite good.

    Downloads satisfy the craving for ‘instant gratification’ but there is always the nagging doubt, if/when the copy I downloaded becomes corrupt have I lost my investment?

    I have in my pocket an MP3 player which I listen to while commuting. I have never downloaded music for that player; I always buy music on CDs, to ensure I have a backup, then copy them to the device. BT appears to be catering for customers like me.

    Note, and this is where their research is astute, that the value is in the peace of mind of having a backup. The physical DVD has value to the user even if it is never played.

Comments are closed.