RealNetworks "Considering" Online Movie Service Support for Mac

RealNetworks Inc. confirmed Wednesday it is "considering" adding Mac support for its new online movie service which launched this past Monday, but has not made a final decision.

The new service, called Starz! Ticket on Real Movies, is a partnership with premium movie channel provider Starz Encore Group LLC. The two companies announced the joint venture 18 months ago.

At present, the service is available only in the US to PC users of the Windows 98 operating system or newer with a broadband connection of at least 600 kilobits per second. With the faster Internet connection, Real is estimating movies could be downloaded in 30 minutes or less.

RealNetworks spokeswoman Erika Shaffer told The Mac Observer Wednesday the company is considering the addition of Macintosh support for the service.

"Making Starz! Ticket on Real Movies available for the Mac is definitely something we are considering, but we donit have a time frame yet," Ms. Shaffer commented.

Ms. Shaffer cautioned there is no guarantee support for Mac users is a certainty.

The service costs US$12.95 a month and give viewers access to about 100 movies. The movies can be viewed an unlimited number of times as long as they are part of the current lineup of Starzis movies. When the company no longer carries any given film, it will automatically be deleted from the users hard drive based on a kill date embedded in the film.

Starz! Ticket on Real Movies is one of many new online movie services that have either begun or announced future service in the last year - with three out of four unwilling at present to add Mac support.

Movielink, which charges per movie download and is backed by several movie studios, does not offer Mac support. When contacted in May regarding possible Mac support, a company spokeswoman told TMO, "Movielink has no foreseeable plans to support the Mac platform."

CinemaNow, which lets users buy subscriptions or pay per movies, is backed partly by Microsoft Corp. It also does not offer Mac support. When contacted regarding possible Mac support, a company spokesperson told TMO they have no plans to offer Mac support.

The fourth, mail-order video service Netflix, has yet to officially announce detailed service plans for its online movie service, but has confirmed it will enter the online movie service very soon. It is not known at this time if the Netflix service will support the Mac.