New York - Paramount Pictures has teamed with Seagate to preload 21 movies onto the hard-drive maker's Free Agent Go portable drive.
The agreement, which started April 12, places the movies onto a 500GB drive with one movie, last year's "Star Trek," being given away for free. The others can be unlocked and purchased with prices ranging from $9.99 to $14.99. The DRM license acquired with each movie allows it to be played either on a TV or on up to three different PCs. However, they cannot be burned onto a DVD.
The 20 other movies are a mix of older films like "Ghost" and newer favorites, said Paramount.
The preloaded 500GB Free Agent Go is available today from Seagate's online store and will work its way into retail in the coming months. As an added promotion, Seagate will sell the drive for $99, down from the usual $139.
Customers will receive documentation when they purchase a movie and there is a system to allow for a second download if the Free Agent Go drive is lost or broken.
Each company sees the deal as a way to entice a new group of customers to their product.
Malik Ducard, senior VP of digital distribution for the Americas, Paramount Digital Entertainment, said, "As a studio a top priority is to get people in front of our movies. Our job is to go where the eyeballs are."
Seagate sees the move as adding a bit of excitement to an otherwise stodgy product category.
"Why do the majority of people buy an external hard drive? Because they ran out of room on their PC's hard drive - that is not very fun," said Darcy Clarkson, Seagate's sales and marketing VP.
Seagate's installed base of Free Agent Go owners will also be made aware of this program so they can take part.
Additional movies will be made available through this deal in the near future, the companies said.
Separately, Paramount will shortly be opening an online movie-download service which gives Seagate, and other customers, access to part of its movie library.
Ducard said Paramount is quite comfortable with the DRM technology being used and it has enabled to take what he called, "a meaningful step" into a new distribution method.
The system to be used will allow these films to be viewed on a wide variety of formats and products, Ducard said.
As a space-saving measure, the movies are stored in standard definition and take up about 10 percent of the drive's capacity. Paramount and Seagate are considering using HD versions in the future.
Seagate does not believe having standard definition movies is necessarily a negative.
Gregory Falgiano, product marketing manager for Seagate Retail, said the movies are optimized for playback on a TV screen and are of near DVD quality. Also, he said people are accustomed to watching lower quality video from sources like YouTube on their televisions.
Neither firm would discuss the revenue sharing agreement.