BT Trials Targeted Ad-Supported Free Movie Downloads

BT (NYSE: BT) will place unskippable adverts in movies downloaded from the BT Vision Download Store online, in a three-month trial allowing viewers to watch films for free in exchange. Only the titles Mischief Night, Played and The Punk Rock Movie will be part of the trial, in which targeted ads from the Isobar agency’s inventory from the AA, Norwich Union and the Territorial Army will appear on-screen if the viewer is online – films will remain available for a month after downloading, according to the company. BT could introduce the model to it living room BT Vision set-top box IPTV service in a year to 18 months if successful but would not ditch paid downloads, which start at £1.89, The Guardian reports.

The technology is supplied by Israeli video ad tech company Hiro, which has recently provided similar service to NBC’s and Israel’s own Reshet. I spoke with Hiro co-founder and CEO Ariel Napchi recently and he is convinced what he calls “positive DRM” can be a game-changer. His technology essentially bundles a codec and player client in with a movie file of any format (so it can play on multiple platforms), meaning the ad remains included even if the file proliferates – indeed, BT says viewers are free to email them to friends. A second layer adds a “geolock” and “temporal control” so media can only be played in certain regions and will expire after a set time. In the BT trial, viewers must give up demographic data so ads can be tailored.


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