Amazon's custom DVDs get download option

/ Source: The Associated Press

Movie studios and TV networks that sell made-on-demand DVDs through's CustomFlix subsidiary will soon be able to offer digital downloads.

The downloads will be offered through Amazon's new video download service, Unbox, and should be available in early 2007, the company said.

CustomFlix Labs Inc. produces licensed DVDs only when a customer orders one, rather than forcing its suppliers to risk producing thousands of copies that go unsold. CustomFlix already sells DVDs of some networks' archived shows, including NBC's "Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show,” "Antiques Roadshow" from PBS and some CBS News programs.

Media companies will be able to offer their content in digital form for no extra cost, CustomFlix spokeswoman Stacey Hurwitz said. Consumers will likely pay a few dollars less for downloads than they do for DVDs, she said.

Hurwitz could not say how many suppliers had signed on for the service's launch, but she said demand from media companies has been high. Inc. said the new arrangement would add thousands of movies to Unbox's catalog, which already includes films from all the major studios except Walt Disney Co. and carries television programs from CBS Corp.'s Showtime Networks Inc. and Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks and Comedy Central.

Movie studios and television networks have been experimenting with ways to distribute their programs over the Internet, trying to capitalize on the growing number of households with broadband Internet connections.

Some offer programs for free with ads on the Web, while others sell them outright. Amazon's Unbox is among those selling video, along with Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store and Microsoft Corp.'s new Xbox Live service.