There has been a lot of speculation about Blockbuster getting into the movie download business, especially since NetFlix launched their ‘Watch Now’ streaming feature. While the majority of consumers still rent their movies in physical stores, rent-by-mail services, video-on-demand, and, more recently, download services, have been eating into the retail rental market. It makes sense that Blockbuster would move to protect their market share. They started rent-by-mail to compete with Netflix, and it was just a matter of time until they got into downloads. The question was really how they’d get into the market.
The answer appears to be by jumping in feet first – via the acquisition of established player Movielink.
Backed by Universal, Paramount, Sony Pictures, MGM and Warner Bros., Movielink has a large library of available films. The main limitation for Movielink is that download playback is limited to Windows PCs and to watch on a TV you need to connect the PC to the TV directly, or use a Media Center Extender. It will be interesting to see what steps Blockbuster takes to close the gap in getting content on the TV. Amazon Unbox, of course, has TiVo to get content on the TV. The TiVo/Unbox relationship is non-exclusive, so it is possible Blockbuster could also do a deal with TiVo. Hopefully they won’t try to launch yet another STB.