Acetrax: VoD is making Sky redundant

Panasonic and Acetrax - paving the way for on-demand TV
Panasonic and Acetrax - paving the way for on-demand TV

Panasonic unveiled its partnership with Acetrax this week, which brings on-demand movies to the company's Viera Cast TVs for the first time.

Leslie Golding, CMO of Acetrax, spoke to TechRadar about the new launch which he believes could make 'middleware' like Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision obsolete.

"I think we're at the start now where there are a lot of stories going: 'why do you need Sky?'

"Why do you need boxes to lock you down to the middle of the living room when you can access your movie here, or access it upstairs or access it in someone else's house, and you're not limited to Sky, or Virgin or BT Vision? You don't need that."

Acetrax's service is the first of its kind in the UK which allows you to access and download movies from the web on to your TV, without having to worry about a hard drive to store them.

Instead your films are put into a digital vault which can be accessed from four machines and a laptop.

Yes it's DRM, but it is the sort of DRM which is meant to give the user a bit more freedom and is in a similar vein to Disney's keychest initiative.

It's something which Golding feels is the future of consuming entertainment.

At the tech forefront

"We're right at the forefront of technology here," explains Golding.

"The fact that you can buy something solely on your TV is a huge step. You don't need DVDs anymore. It's about registering devices and using these devices to access your movies, rather than having a thing you have to carry around and take different places."

Acetrax may well be at the 'forefront of technology' but it is still burdened by technology – namely the UK's broadband speeds.

While a good number of the UK has the 2.5Mbps connection needed to stream video, Acetrax has decided to keep its movies in SD at the moment, which means that you may have a big-screen Panasonic but you won't be able to view HD content through this service.

"The content is all SD, but good quality SD," explains Golding.

"We are not doing HD at the moment is because of an infrastructure issue. In some countries it might be possible to do it, but in the UK it is complicated because some of our customers would not be able to use the HD service.

"We can start HD pretty much when we want. It's just the broadband speed issue. For HD we would need about 4-5Mbps."

"Technically we can do 3D but it's an issue with the bandwidth."

Ahead of Sky

Acetrax is hoping that movies on-demand will catch on with consumers sooner rather than later, but the model seems to have the interest of the Hollywood studios, with Paramount, Warner and Universal signed up and another major soon to follow.

"Acetrax is actually ahead of Sky; you can get your movie here before it goes to Sky, as it is in the same window as rentals.

"It's an evolving process and I think by this time next year Sony will have announced its thing and the way in which people in general are consuming their media will change in the next year."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.