The days of the high-street video store have been numbered for some time as supermarkets, chain stores and online retailers undercut and bite relentlessly into their market.

However, in an act of rough justice it now seems that the biters may themselves be bitten.

British telecoms giant BT will on Monday launch a new broadband 'download-to-own' service, offering some 150 movies from Universal Pictures - many of which will be first-run titles currently on general release.

BT has stolen a march on US-owned pay-TV rivals such as NewsCorp's BSkyB and NTL:Telewest, most of whom must wait three months before airing or downloading 'new' films.

Under the BT Vision brand, consumers will be offered films for purchase, viewable via three platforms: a computer, a portable device such as an MP3 player, or a DVD mailed direct to home. Prices will vary from £7.99 ($14.56; €11.53) to £16.99.

However, there is a snag that won't please the anti-Microsoft brigade. The movies will be viewable only via a Windows Media-compatible device.

Mike Cansfield, telecoms strategy research director at telecoms, software and IT consultancy Ovum believes BT's launch is the first salvo in an almighty battle to offer consumers video content via new platforms.

"This deal shows that the entertainment sector converging with telecommunications is becoming much more competitive.

"For the studios it means extending the shelf life, and 'longtail' of content. For BT it means they are able to offer films at the same time as the high street players and to get ahead of the pay-per-view market. It is a direct threat."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff