HDNet, a completely high-definition network, launched its Ultra Video on Demand platform Thursday, offering select movies as early as three weeks before they premiere in theaters.
The network will be kicking off the new service with Brian De Palma’s critically acclaimed film “Redacted,” which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival.
Interested viewers can call their cable or satellite provider and ask them to add Ultra VOD to their programming guide, the network said. The film will be available on an on-demand basis for viewing in either standard or high definition, depending on the needs of the consumer.
For those who have HDNet, “Redacted” also will be offered for free in high definition Nov. 14, two days before its theatrical release, as part of the network’s Sneak Preview feature.
HDNet founder Mark Cuban said the motivation behind the new VOD service was making sure those without HDNet could have an opportunity to see these films before they’re released as well.
“We wanted to make the movies available to anyone who wanted to see them,” he said, “for those that don’t have HDNet or don’t want to wait for the HDNet free Sneak Preview.”
Mr. Cuban said HDNet is the only network offering such a service.
“If we make it work as well as we expect it to, there is no question that the future of independent film will change,” he said.
The VOD price of the films will vary depending on whether it is before or after the film is released in theaters, Mr. Cuban said. It will range from $9.95 to $24.95 pre-theatrical release; once available in theaters, the VOD fee will be in line with local cinema pricing.
“Redacted” was picked to be the first film for the service because it’s so controversial, Mr. Cuban said.
“You have Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly talking about it almost daily,” he said. “This gives people a chance to make up their own minds and see it at home.”
He said the network is very selective about what kind of movies it will offer.
“Not all movies are a good fit for this program,” Mr. Cuban said. “We will hand-pick what we feel are the best from those we produce and those we acquire.”
[Learn More: TVWeek]