How Sonic Solutions is powering Hollywood’s broadband dreams

Sonic Solutions is announcing today that its RoxioNow entertainment platform is being used by Intel for its secure distribution of high-quality digital movies to PCs via broadband connections.

Intel has convinced Hollywood movie studios to allow high-quality downloads of recent movies to users who buy them while using the newest Intel-based PCs. Those Intel-based PCs, which use the new Sandy Bridge chips that combine graphics and microprocessor functions on the same chip, will be able to play movies but not make unauthorized copies of them.

The companies are unveiling the deal at the Consumer Electronics Show, the big tech trade show that gets under way in Las Vegas this week. The Intel Insider software will let consumers buy or rent premium movies and then download them from entertainment sites that use RoxioNow, which is the movie-downloading service owned by Sonic Solutions, recently purchased by Rovi for $720 million.

PCs with the Intel chips will hit the market as early as Jan. 9. RoxioNow is a key part of the puzzle because its technology for downloading movies powers a number of storefronts on the web. Consumers can now buy or rent new releases of movies via download on the same day they come out on DVDs or Blu-ray discs. Titles rented or purchased can be viewed on the PC using the RoxioNow Player, or they can be displayed on a TV using a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cable or wirelessly from laptops with Intel’s Wireless Display technology.

“We consider this to be a big deal for consumers,” said Dave Habiger, chief executive of Sonic, in an interview. “Intel came to us because so many movie sites are using our technology. The studios are finally at the point where they are comfortable sharing their most valuable digital assets online.”

In the past, studios didn’t allow high-quality movies to be released online because of concerns about piracy and quality. Now, Habiger said, there’s no need to sit on the sidelines while others embrace new digital distribution and business models. Meanwhile, Sonic is also announcing that its DivX internet video player is also being used by more and more companies. The DivX player is being built into chips from Broadcom and MediaTek, which power many of the world’s set-top boxes. As a result, those boxes will be able to play DivX videos without any compatibility problems.