Dallas (TX) and Marin County (CA) – Blockbuster Inc. has teamed up with Sonic solutions to deliver digital content via the Internet for movie rental and purchases. Deliveries will be available to PCs and new consumer electronics devices, including Blu-ray disc players for viewing and burning. Blockbuster begins this service long after rival Netflix Inc. began a similar service last year.
Sonic’s existing CinemaNow providers will become part of an expanded ecosystem of interoperable devices which will ultimately include PCs, portable media players, Blu-ray Disc players, personal video recorders, set-top boxes, mobile phones and Web-connected television sets. The new service creates a single Blockbuster brand for all content which will be available via Video On Demand (VOD).
Jim Keyes, Blockbuster’s Chairman and CEO said, “We are excited to be partnering with Sonic, the industry’s leading entertainment delivery and technology provider, to make Blockbuster’s digital entertainment service easily and instantly available to consumers through the widest range of devices available in the marketplace. Blockbuster is a ubiquitous entertainment presence in the physical world. Through this alliance with Sonic, we plan to become a ubiquitous presence in the digital world as well. Our goal is to offer consumers the most digital content, the most accessibility, via the most devices, both in- and out of home.”
Sonic’s existing device ecosystem is powered by its CinemaNow SDK (software development kit) allowing new consumer electronics devices the ability to rapidly make the switch – for both Windows- and Mac-based devices as well as other platforms like set-top boxes and portable devices, according to the press release.
Dave Habiger, president and CEO of Sonic said, “With more and more broadband-enabled consumer electronics hitting the market, there is a growing need for a service that gives consumers access to premium entertainment on any device, anytime and anywhere. By pairing Sonic’s digital delivery technology with Blockbuster’s trusted brand and library of content, we enable any CE manufacturer to add an impressive digital movie service to its product offerings and in doing so, create the most flexible digital entertainment service for consumers.”
No word was given as to the service’s cost or when it will begin. Rival Netflix offers their service as a free addition to anyone paying at least $8.99/month. The majority of Netflix’s 9 million subscribers fall into that category.
Blockbuster took steps toward this announcement when, in last November, it introduced a badget made by 2Wire Inc. which connected to televisions, temporarily saving videos after downloaded from a high-speed Internet connection. Said Keyes, “We put our toe in the water and now this gives us a significant leap forward in our consumer offerings.”
Sonic Solutions recently acquired CinemaNow for $3 million from movie studio Lionsgate and Cisco Systems Inc.
A typical Blu-ray download runs upwards of 5 GB per movie. Many Internet customers may soon find they are limited as to the number of movies they can download per month due to usage caps. With companies like Comcast offering first a warning, then a disabling of service – heavy Blockbuster Internet movie viewers may soon be left without connectivity.
This new Blockbuster service may require a reconsideration by Comcast and other ISPs when the content being downloaded is legally purchased from a legitimate pay-for-service like Blockbuster.