Walt Disney chairman/ceo Michael Eisner announced Tuesday that the media corporation plans live tests later this year of a digital video home delivery system. If successful, this will further swell Disney’s coffers by bypassing conventional movie rental outlets.

It would also hammer another nail into the coffin of video piracy – a practice currently bleeding Disney and other Hollywood studios of billions of dollars. “If we don't provide consumers with our products in a timely manner, pirates will,” Eisner told the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention in Las Vegas.

He omitted to add that his techno-wheeze could falter on the basis that Disney has yet to crack the digital delivery of a dozen sixpacks of Bud along with the video.

The pilot scheme, branded Movie Beam, will use part of the digital broadcasting spectrum used by Disney’s ABC broadcast network, to beam a maximum of ten movies weekly into domestic TV digiboxes, each with a storage capacity of 100 full-length features.

The new technology, Eisner believes, could provide a windfall akin to the introduction two decades back of the VCR which revolutionized the economics of the film industry.

[Media observers with long memories will recall that BT Group planned and successfully piloted (in the town of Colchester, Essex) just such a service back in the early 90s before being warned-off by the Conservative government of the day – at the behest, many believe, of the two debt-strapped US cable companies that now duopolize the UK cable scene.]

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff