Englewood, Colo. — Starz Entertainment Group has concluded the beta-testing phase of its Vongo Internet-delivered video service and announced the expansion of available content through a new “gold” edition of the service that is now widely available to consumers.
Vongo, which first launched in beta form in January, delivers movies and other video content over the Internet for playback on Windows-based PCs, laptops and select portable media devices.
Based on consumer feedback from the beta test, the encode rate of the service was raised to 1.3Mbps for most selections, the company said. The upgrade is said to improve video resolution on PCs, portable devices “and particularly on a TV or large PC monitor,” the company said.
Improvements were also made to the user interface, including the establishment of “more descriptive listings of series and episodic content and better performance and search capabilities when managing and exploring content in ‘My Library’ and ‘search.’”
Starz said the Vongo gold edition of its service will offer more content, with over 1,600 movie and video selections.
Vongo’s title selections have also been expanded to include a library of more than 600 TV-based series and episodes throughout the year. These will include primarily older classics including Westerns, such as “Big Valley,” and “The Rifleman,” and of classics including “The Green Hornet” series and others.
Pricing for the improved Vongo service will remain at $9.99 per month for unlimited subscription downloads.
Vongo subscribers have access to more than 1,600 movie and video selections as well as a live, streaming Starz TV channel for a $9.99 monthly fee. Members may download movies and video selections onto three eligible devices of their choice for each account. Users can also order select content on a pay-per-view basis for $3.99 per movie.
Vongo software is offered as a free download for U.S. broadband subscribers at www.vongo.com. Last April the service began a 14-day universal free trial for new customers.
In addition to the user interface enhancements, Starz Entertainment Group will provide consumers with new ways to access and control their content, the company said. For a limited number of movies, for example, Vongo subscribers will be able to pay 99 cents to download a pay-per-view title (vs. the current $3.99), as the platform now supports variable transactional pricing.
Bob Greene, Starz Entertainment Group senior VP, said, “The next major step for us will be to build out the portability story. Over the coming months we look forward to announcing additional enhancements and partnerships which will continue to advance the digital entertainment experience.
“Building on the foundation of Vongo's subscription business with new content — and leveraging our exclusive movie rights — will remain Vongo's focus,” Greene continued. “However, we will also look to further experiment with the non-exclusive, transactional businesses for rental and ownership of films. Our goal is to explore the viability of electronic rental and ownership as complements to subscription and ultimately make Vongo a one-stop shop for broadband movie and entertainment enjoyment.”