For the first time anywhere, cable watchers can watch first-run movies on the same day that they become available to video stores--and long before the films can be seen on HBO or Showtime.
Subscribers to American Cablesystems in four Massachusetts towns--Newbury Port, Newbury, West Newbury and Rowley--can see "Pretty in Pink," "9 1/2 Weeks" and other new video releases by pushing a set of buttons on their TVs using the new Jerrold Impulse Paper-View Selector. Subs pay 99 cents to $3.99 for each of 60 titles a month, including classics like "Casablanca."
"Our advantage is that customers don't have to go to the video store and rent films and later take them back," said Len Tammaro, general manager of Newbury Port Cablesystems. "But the video stores' advantage is that they have thousands of titles to choose from. We have only 60 a month."
"No questions have been raised about the legality of what we are doing," said American Cablesystems corporate attorney Michael Milsom. "We have proper contracts with all the distributors."
And video stores in the area? "We've had no reaction whatsoever from video stores," said Tammaro. "They haven't thrown a brick through our window."