Cineplex adds movie download service

Cineplex Entertainment has launched a service that allows customers to download movies from its website directly to their home PCs or other compatible devices.

Cineplex Entertainment has launched a service that allows customers to download movies from its website directly to their home PCs or other compatible devices.

The new service — effective Thursday — lets visitors to rent or buy movies.

A visit to the website Thursday showed 719 titles for rent. Most new release rentals are priced at $4.99. Older titles cost $2.99 or $3.99.

More than 2,600 titles were for sale as of launch day. Prices range from $5 to $24.99, with a typical new release costing $19.99.   

Purchased movies are permanently stored on the customer's hard drive or in a digital "locker" that customers download. The locker lets purchasers delete movies from their own hard drives to free up storage space, while still having access to them in the locker.

Rented movies must be watched within 30 days and once viewing has begun, it must be completed in 48 hours. 

Competitive field already sells DVDs, Blu-ray movies and TV shows and lets users buy movie tickets through a print-at-home feature.

The decision to offer digital downloads launches the entertainment company into an increasingly competitive field.

ITunes has allowed its Canadian customers to rent or buy thousands of titles for more than two years.

Two months ago, Netflix launched its video streaming service in Canada, offering unlimited movie and television episodes over broadband internet connections for $7.99 a month.

Ottawa-based, which currently offers a DVD-by-mail service similar to the one offered by Netflix in the U.S., is planning to launch online video streaming subscriptions to TVs and computers in Canada.

Other Canadian companies have already launched on-demand streaming online video options.

In May, Rogers made its On Demand Online service available to its cable TV, high-speed internet, home phone and wireless customers. The available content includes television shows, movies, and exclusive web-only content. Digital cable subscribers can also view the specialty channels they subscribe to online.

In July, Vidéotron launched its internet television service illico web. The service, which is available to customers who subscribe to both Vidéotron's digital TV and internet services, provides access online to 32 television channels, along with TV episodes, movies, digital radio, concerts and karaoke.