Social Movie Rentals Premiere at Lycos; Chat Room Has Everything But the Popcorn

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for individual or group viewing. The makers of the top 21 films as of June 30, based on ratings from Lycos users themselves, will be invited to a film festival to be held at New York’s Tribeca Cinemas July25-27.

“From the early indications we think the response is going to be overwhelming,” says Ball. “It’s almost as if we built our product for them, giving cinemaphiles worldwide the opportunity to come in an see this new and emerging filmmaking, in solitude or with other people who are interested in watching new movies together and commenting. We’ll make the comments available to the filmmakers and we’re certain that the filmmakers are going to want to pop into some of the viewing rooms.”

Money says all of the new Lycos content is encoded in the relatively new H.264/MPEG-4 format, which allows higher video quality at lower bit rates than older video formats. Movies will play at a resolution of 720 x 480 pixels—which is far below the 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution of today’s high-definition TV screens, but looks quite good on most computer screens.

Ball says that the new server and software infrastructure Lycos has put in place for the Cinema relaunch, along with its agreements with content distribution networks such as Limelight, mean that it could scale up the movie rental service to full high-definition as soon as movies studios start making such content available. (At that point, devices that let you watch PC content on an HDTV screen, like the ZeeVee ZvBox covered here last week, would become a valuable complement to Lycos Cinema and other online movie rental services.)

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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