updated 11:40 am EDT, Thu August 9, 2007
Blockbuster Buys Movielink
Blockbuster today announced that it was buying online movie store Movielink for an undisclosed amount, giving the video retailer its first access to a direct-download service for buying and renting both full-length features and TV shows. The maneuver is not just a quick entry into competition against stores from other competitors such as Apple's iTunes and Netflix but will also let Blockbuster expand the quality and access of the existing Movielink service, according to Blockbuster's chief executive James Keyes. Videos sometimes download too slowly to play instantly and can't be transferred beyond the computer outside of streaming to an AT&T media hub or an Xbox 360, as the copy protection bars users from burning DVDs or creating copies for portable media players.
Few specific details of expected changes were outlined as part of the buyout deal, but Blockbuster indicated it would soon integrate parts of the service accessible through the website of its existing mail-based rental system, suggesting that customers will have the option of renting a movie online alongside the physical option. But the ultimate goal was to modernize Blockbuster itself, which has essentially kept to its retail rental model since the beginning.
"Many of our stores still say 'Blockbuster Video,'" Keyes said, referring to the archaic look of the store today. "We're taking a fresh look at the future of Blockbuster. The popularity of [online downloads] convinced us that customers are ready for more convenient forms of digital delivery that we think Blockbuster can successfully enter."