The growing market for high definition television in Japan has received a further boost with the start of a VOD service by the country’s largest retail chain, Tsutaya.
Users will be able to download titles from home using the acTVila portal that is popular on Japanese plasma and LCD HDTVs.
They will have 48 hours to watch the films or TV shows as many times as they want.
The new service from Tsutaya, which counts 27.2 million members at its 1,330 branches across Japan, is the latest sign of the growing popularity of HDTV in the country.
The retailer plans to make deals with four Hollywood studios – Paramount, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney and NBC Universal – to expand its available online library to 2,000 titles by the end of the year.
It added that high-speed fiber-optic connections are required for use of the service – which are currently available in about a quarter of Japan’s 48 million homes.
The service launched with downloads of the first season of hit US series “Heroes”, “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives”.
Each full length movie will cost 735 yen (about $7 USD) with other prices still to be announced
Tsutaya hopes that the new service will pull in more customers with higher disposable incomes in the 40-50 age range.
AcTVila was developed by Japan’s major television makers – Sharp, Sony, Matsushita, Toshiba and Hitachi – and is compatible with several dozen models of plasma or liquid crystal display sets.

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