Warner Bros. said Wednesday that it will become the first Hollywood studio to license its movies to a national video-on-demand service that will connect to television sets in China.
The studio said it expects the service to be available in 3 million homes with cable TV in China by the end of summer. It said it believes there is the potential to reach 200 million households eventually.
Warner Bros.' president of international home video and digital distribution, Jim Wuthrich, said the market for legitimate sales of movies from studios is still small in China, where pirated copies of movies make their way onto street corners as quickly as a week after movies are released in theaters.
The studio's video-on-demand titles will be available about four months after a theatrical debut, around the same time legitimate DVD sales are permitted.
"This is one more step helping combat piracy, by making legitimate content available where consumers want to watch it," he said. "We think there is tremendous opportunity longer term."
Consumers will be able to catch recently released films including "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," which came out in November. In all, Warner Bros. is making about 600 of its movies available. Pricing of the video service was not announced.