In a deal that could have intriguing implications for film lovers, Reuters is reporting that Hewlett-Packard (HP) has signed up Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) for their manufactured-on-demand DVD (MOD) service. In the year since the service was introduced, HP has contracted with 40 other content providers and digitized "about 5,000 titles for its electronic library."

Sony becomes "the first major studio to license niche and older titles" for the MOD service, according to the article. David Bishop, president of SPHE, says that Sony has been reluctant to release certain content on DVD, including some unspecified foreign and independent movies, because of the uncertainties involved in gauging consumer demand and maintaining inventory. There is no word yet on titles, either which or how many, and pricing.

For HP, the deal is a good way to reposition their service, which was originally trumpeted as a way to make sporting events and broadcast TV shows available on DVD within a few days of their original air dates. Sony's unreleased back catalog content includes classic TV, religious and food shows, and local sporting events, in addition to the aforementioned foreign and independent movies.

Several companies already offer their own versions of MOD service; Amazon's CreateSpace, for example, allows individuals to sell their own content on DVD and other media. This could be a viable alternative for folks who prefer to have a DVD rather than a downloaded computer file. And if it opens up the studio's back catalogs and unleashes some long in-demand titles, so much the better.

[ via CNET News ]