Blockbuster tweets the end of in-store movie rentals
Nostalgic movie lovers may want to take notice, as Blockbuster has announced that Saturday, November 9, will be the last day on which its stores will provide movie rentals. Ahead of its imminent shutdown, Blockbuster tweeted notification of the cessation of its in-store rental service, asking customers what their last rentals will be. A follow-up tweet directed customers to the company's Frequently Asked Questions page in order to address any concerns about their accounts as the company prepares to go under.
Video rental service to breathe its last by January
Dish Network, parent company of Blockbuster, announced on Wednesday that the video rental service would be ending both its retail and mail DVD distribution operations by early-January 2014. Blockbuster will close its roughly 300 remaining U.S.-based retail locations and distribution centers in early January. The Blockbuster By Mail DVD distribution service, set to expire in mid-December, will continue to serve existing customers until that time.
Blockbuster On Demand comes to Slingbox 500
Sling Media has introduced several new features for its mobile apps and set-top boxes. A firmware update for the Slingbox 500 brings support for Blockbuster On Demand content, including trailers and movie rentals. Users can also access their photos and videos stored on an attached USB drive.
Portrait+ offers batch portrait retouching
ArcSoft has released Portrait+ for Mac, a new portrait retouching app that can be used to process groups of portraits simultaneously. The software uses facial recognition analysis to automatically detect faces and automatically perform numerous common corrections. This includes adjustments to key facial points around the eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth. Portrait Plus also includes numerous tools for manually selecting and removing scars, pimples, and other imperfections, as well as options for adjusting the output quality and size of finalized images.
Third High Street chain to do so in seven-day period
Movie rentals company Blockbuster's United Kingdom arm has applied for bankruptcy protection after 24 years of operation. The move takes place in the same one-week period as photography chain Jessops and music retailer HMV headed into administration in the UK, unable to battle online retailers and providers of online and post-based services
Comcast won't bring Netflix to its portfolio
Despite recent reports that Netflix is in talks with cable providers on some form of partnership, Comcast has gone on record to say it has no interest in such a deal. It won't add the service to its Xfinity subscribers as an on-demand offering or part of its billing service on any device, claims a New York Times report. Netflix believes it could be offered by major cable providers as a premium offering.
Blockbuster streaming due on Samsung TVs in 2012
The manager of the Blockbuster name in Australia, Franchise Entertainment Group chief Paul Uniacke, stated Monday that Samsung had scored a key deal to get Blockbuster On Demand across virtually all its devices. The pact outlined to Smarthouse would see Blockbuster arrive both on TVs and Blu-ray players as well as on mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and ultrabook. Unofficially, the US, UK, and mainland Europe would get access in the first half of 2012, with Australia not expected before September.
Eolas sees web patent lawsuit claim tossed
Eolas' attempt to patent the "interactive web" may have been dealt a permanent blow after a jury in the normally patent lawsuit-friendly town of Tyler, Texas ruled that the patent was invalid. The decision negated both any attempts at claiming damages and also negated three future trials. The rejection came in part after testimony from the spiritual creator of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, as well as individual creators whose work predated that of Eolas owner Michael Doyle.
Redbox takes on NCR entertainment division
Redbox finished Monday by acquiring NCR's entertainment division. The $100 million move would see it buy NCR's 35,000 disc kiosks, usually attached to Blockbuster Express, as well as retailer deals and discs themselves. As part of the swap, Redbox's parent company Coinstar will get software and services that will ultimately make a $25 million profit for NCR.
Dish Hopper gets our run-through at CES
Dish Network had an unusually strong presence at CES this year and gave us time to try its new Hopper DVR system. The three-tuner box is one of the more aggressive recorders we've seen and can record as many as six shows at once through a unique trick: it loads the four major US TV networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) on one tuner during prime time hours. It's hard to tell if there's any compression artifacts from the recorded shows on those networks, but it looked good in the controlled conditions of the CES floor.
Wait period doubled to 56 days
Corroborating earlier reports, Warner Brothers is said to be set to extend the delay time for movie availability through streaming providers or DVD rental outlets. Customers will now have to wait 56 days from the start of DVD sales before titles will arrive through streaming channels or disc rentals, essentially doubling the window from the current period of 28 days.
Dish may use streaming to cut expensive TV
Dish is contemplating a TV streaming service that could be an end-run around costs for traditional TV, according to possible new leaks. The strategy as explained to the Wall Street Journal would see channels from "several" studios licensed for paid streaming online to help make it cheaper to adopt Dish's TV service. Some of the cost would come from excising sports channels it's normally required to carry from the cheapest Internet pricing plans, as they often cost disproportionately much more than other stations.
Same restrictions on DVDs and streaming
Warner Brothers has reportedly imposed a 28-day delay for DVDs headed to Blockbuster's rental locations. The studio appears to be following the same strategy with Blockbuster rentals as it has maintained with other players such as Redbox and Netflix, which also face the same month-long window between DVD sales and rental availability.
Premiere Elite set-top box offering many firsts
TiVo is now shipping its Premiere Elite set-top box, which was officially introduced at the start of September. The premium offering has four digital tuners and a built-in 2TB hard drive. Meant for home theater enthusiasts, it's also THX-certified for picture and sound output.
WD TV Live carries Spotify Music and more
Western Digital on Tuesday brought out its next-generation WD TV Live media box and companion WD TV Live Hub. The new version has a revamped, tray-based interface and now has Spotify music. Listeners with a Spotify Premium account can stream at the full 320Kbps with support for making playlists, sharing, and getting access to others' content through profiles and the song inbox.
Google bid higher, but wanted special conditions
Sources say that Dish Network is the frontrunner in the bid to buy Hulu, beating out Google, Amazon, and Yahoo. Its offer is reportedly in the range $1.9 billion. Other bidders may have been put off by Hulu's plans to move away from its free, ad-supported model or the lack of certainty about the availability of content. For instance Google's bid was in the $4 billion range according to sources, but came with the demand that the networks continue to provide programming after their current contracts expire in a few years.
Blockbuster Movie Pass gives perks for satellite
Dish Network made a bet on Internet video Friday with Blockbuster Movie Pass. The service bundles satellite TV with mailed movie, TV, and game rentals as well as Internet streaming. Pitched as a rival to Netflix and Qwikster, it takes advantage of the Blockbuster rights and TV streaming to give a wider catalog of Internet video; 10,000 movies in total will stream to TVs and computers, including from Starz and others who have held out on Netflix to shelter their TV business.
Dish and Blockbuster hint big movie bundle Sept 23
Dish's ambitions for a major Internet movie service were confirmed late Monday after the company sent invitations to a special event for Friday, September 23. The "stream come true" gathering in San Francisco will be broadcast online from 1PM Eastern that day. Little is known about the exact details, but the satellite TV provider was confident it would have the "most comprehensive home entertainment package ever."
SK Telecom quickly shoots down rumor
Korean phone giant SK Telecom quickly dismissed rumors that it would bid on Hulu. Being unusually direct, a spokeswoman said her company was aware of Hulu's self sale but that its managers "do not plan to participate" in the bidding process. A rumor earlier claimed SK Telecom was looking once more at a US company as a way of reducing its dependence on cellphones and its native country.
SK Telecom to bid on Hulu later this week
South Korean wireless provider SK Telecom is expected to join the Hulu bidding with its own offer later this week, a source told SAI. It will be one of a few, though the others haven't been named. Hulu sent out a letter to all interested parties, asking them to send a non-binding expression of interest that includes what their bid range is once they do their due diligence of the company's finances, the source said.
Rovi claims Hulu interface copies patented tech
Rovi on Friday sued Hulu over claims the Internet streaming site copied its technology. The complaint alleges that Hulu's interface for navigating shows copies multiple patents Rovi has for electronic program guides like those seen on a cable or satellite set-top box. The complaint wants tripled damages that would include back pay for the earlier violations.
4th deal this year for Dish founder Charlie Ergen
A US Bankruptcy Court in NY has approved Dish Network's proposed purchase of TerreStar. The deal has been valued at $1.38 billion. The main asset that Dish will be getting is the bankrupt satellite communications provider's 20MHz of wireless spectrum.
Evo 3D gets 3D Blockbuster, HTC Watch, Gameloft
Sprint on Tuesday confirmed plans for the HTC Evo 3D to ship with 3D content both on and ready for the phone. The dual-core Android hardware will come with the recently hinted 3D version of Green Hornet and tap into 3D movie services as well. Both Blockbuster and HTC's own Watch will be onboard with 3D movies as an option to buy or rent from either store.
Blockbuster drops in-store DVD rental prices
Blockbuster, which recently sold to Dish, has now revealed that it has lowered retail, in-store rental prices of DVDs as of May 27. Old titles will cost 99 cents per day, new releases have dropped to $1.99 for the first day, and just-released films now cost $2.99. Each additional day costs 99 cents.
Blockbuster app blocks rooted Android phones
Blockbuster's app for the Droid Charge uses DRM software from Widevine and has the ability to detect a rooted handset, Droid-Life reported. It will then inform the user of this, and not allow access to the streaming videos offered by the app. Coincidentally, Widevine is owned by Google, the maker of the Android OS the Droid Charge runs on.
DEG says subscription, digital video up a third
Non-traditional movie rentals upstaged retail shop rentals in the first few months of 2011, DEG reported Monday. Subscription rentals, including both discs and Internet streaming from sites like Netflix, created 33 percent more spending in the March quarter. Cash from rentals at Blockbuster and other legacy stores simultaneouly dropped 36 percent, however, hinting that many had been giving up the old method in favor of new.
Dish will leave 500 Blockbuster stores open
Dish Network, which has recently announced the purchase of Blockbuster, has now said it would take on leases for about 500 of the video-rental's stores as of Tuesday. The papers were filed this past weekend with the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, with a hearing planned for Thursday. After recent store closings, Blockbuster now has nearly 1,700 stores operating in the US.
NPD says discs lead video while digital at 7pc
The NPD Group in a new study suggested that Internet video had done little to dislodge Blu-ray and DVD as the dominant forms for movies. About 78 percent of the money spent on watching at home in the US was spent on one of the two disc formats exclusively while 15 percent were spending it on a hybrid service with both Internet and physical rentals, like Netflix. The remaining seven-plus percent accounted for every other digital and pay-per-view service combined, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and cable or satellite watching.
AMC, Regal refuse movies with 60-day VOD
Major movie theater chains AMC and Regal this week warned that they would punish the major movie studios for trying to offer movies on demand after 60 days. Both said they would not only refuse to run trailers for any movie available to stream under the $30 per title plan but would decline the movies themselves. The two also maintained a likely unfulfillable hope that the studios would say which movies are 60-day VOD titles to ban them in advance.
Judge approves Dish buyout of Blockbuster
A bankruptcy court judge on Thursday gave approval to Dish's buyout of Blockbuster. The clearance for the $320 million deal was needed before the two could complete the deal, which has now been narrowed down from spring to April 25. Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes said he was happy with the deal, in part since Dish would keep business mostly intact and take over many leases and the on-the-spot DVD rental kiosks.
Dish snaps up Blockbuster for 320m
Dish said Wednesday that it had won an auction to buy Blockbuster. The satellite TV provider said it had offered $320 million, about $228 million of which was in cash, to beat out competitors like investor Carl Icahn and SK Telecom. Bids had gotten as high as $310.6 million, from Icahn, before Dish landed the final price.
Dish and Icahn part of bidding for Blockbuster
The bidding to buy out Blockbuster now includes Dish Network and well-known activist investor Carl Icahn, insiders claimed Friday. The two are both supposedly making just the minimum bid, around $290 million, to qualify for the auction before it starts in earnest on Monday. The WSJ in scraping information was warned that new bidders could come into play or make unions with each other.
SK Telecom may buy out Blockbuster
Korean cell carrier SK Telecom said Thursday that it was contemplating making a bid for the struggling video chain Blockbuster. An official didn't explain the motivations, but it's suspected the deal would be an attempt to diversify away from its Korea-only network, where it leads but has a tough fight with KT and LG Telecom. Daewoo Securities analyst Byun Sung-jae told the WSJ that SK Telecom might feel oversaturated but could thrive in Internet video, where Blockbuster's content rights would be advantages.
HTC Evo View 4G official and tested by us
Sprint's other major introduction on Tuesday was the HTC Evo View 4G, its adaptation of the Flyer. The new version gets a speed boost through WiMAX and uses it for Blockbuster video downloads, YouTube HD, and two-way video chat from the front camera. It has the same slim, aluminum unibody design but with an all-gray back and the signature red trim from other Evos, down to the inside components.
Blockbuster to sell itself off post-bankruptcy
Blockbuster said on Monday that it planned to auction itself off post-bankruptcy with an uncommon trick to guarantee a minimum price. The company is using a "stalking horse" bid from an investment fund coalition, Cobalt Video Holdco, to set a minimum bid of $290 million. The deal would see companies already investing in Blockbuster buy it out if there were no takers but would get a better deal from a third party.
Expected to emerge from bankruptcy
Blockbuster plans to close another 182 stores in the next few months according to a report. The move is part of a restructure designed to return the company to profitability under the protection of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it filed for in September. The latest closures come after the once dominant DVD rental giant also shuttered more than 2,000 stores over the past two years.
Blockbuster kiosks wait 28 days for Warner Bros
Blockbuster on Friday said that its Express kiosks would have to wait 28 days before getting new movies from Warner Bros. to rent. Despite having trialed same-day launches as recently as the past few weeks, such as Fox's Knight and Day, the company has agreed to stall the $1 DVDs in return for closer contact with Warner Bros. as well as a lower distribution cost and healthier supply. It already had similar deals with Fox and Universal.
Time Warner chief claims Netflix insignificant
Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes in an interview published Sunday tried to downplay the significance of Netflix. He insisted the streaming video provider was far less than it was made out to be in the media. Netflix was much smaller than Time Warner, he argued, and had no chance of disrupting the larger company, likening it for the New York Times to the Albanian military's relative insignificance.
Netflix gets fuller ABC and Disney streaming TV
Netflix landed another major content deal today as it reached a new deal with Disney and ABC. In exchange for a minimum 15-day delay between a first TV appearance and the online version, Netflix will get a much deeper catalog that includes prior-season access to current shows like Grey's Anatomy and full seasons of past shows like Lost and Scrubs. Disney's TV content is expanding, and ABC Family is reaching the Internet for the first time.
OnLive and Vizio talking movie subscriptions
Cloud game service OnLive and TV maker Vizio are discussing separate deals for subscription movie services of their own, sources both official and unofficial said Sunday night. OnLive is publicly committed to expanding to movies through both subscriptions and other business models, but Vizio is unofficially believed to be in early talks for content. The details weren't known to the Wall Street Journal contacts.
Netflix hoping to get streaming of new TV episodes
Netflix has been pressing hard to get current TV shows on Watch Instantly, according to rumors surrounding negotiations. The company reportedly said it was willing to pay between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode if it meant getting access to a given season while still on the air. Most of the "friction" in the discussions, the New York Post's sources said, has been TV broadcast owners arguing that they have rights over current-season TV that even the show producers themselves would lack.
WD TV Live update brings Facebook, Blockbuster
Western Digital on Tuesday announced it has added new online services to its lineup of WD TV media players. The WD TV Live Plus media player will have access to rent or buy new movie releases at the same time as they are launched on Blu-ray or DVD through Blockbuster On Demand in the US. Both the WD TV Lice Plus and the Live will also get newfound Facebook access, letting users upload photos and videos, update their status, view their wall and get News Feed info.
Oppo Digital intros BDP-93 Blu-ray player
Oppo Digital has announced its latest Blu-ray player, the BDP-93. It will succeed the BDP-83 that was sent out to a select few back in 2009, and get all of its features as well as support for Blu-ray 3D specification including dual HDMI 1.4a outputs, Netflix Watch Instantly functionality and Blockbuster on Demand. Wi-Fi and an eSATA port are also part of the features.
BD-A1000 "universal Blu-ray player"
Yamaha has introduced the BD-A1000, a "universal Blu-ray player" that pairs an optical drive with streaming capabilities. The device allows users to play Blu-ray discs, DVDs, SACDs, DVD Audio discs or web-based media such as Netflix, YouTube and Blockbuster. Dual USB ports can also be used to attach an external hard drive or thumb drive.
Verizon Galaxy Tab lacks Skype, V Cast Video, NFL
The upcoming Galaxy Tab that's due at Verizon on November 11 will not ship with the Skype, V Cast Video or NFL Mobile apps pre-installed, according to leaked web training documents posted by Engadget on Tuesday. The plan would come despite despite the NFL's wishes to bring video onto Verizon's tablets and that the carrier's V Cast Video service is available on all of its other Android devices. The three apps are eventually expected to come to the device, though exactly when isn't being revealed.
WD TV Live Hub launches at Best Buy
Western Digital has quickly followed up on recent leaks by launching the WD TV Live Hub. Unlike the company's earlier media streamers, it's designed to be fully self-contained and has a full 1TB of space that can hold large amounts of 1080p video and is enough to become a media server for the home. While built to play media directly to a TV, it can share its content to other devices on the local network over DLNA or UPnP and even to Android and iOS hardware.
Blockbuster in Ch. 11 bankruptcy to focus online
Blockbuster this morning followed through on expectations and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of its shift into online video. The move gives it an opportunity to reorganize and would exchange the company's 11.75 percent in senior notes for equity stakes. Refinancing, cost cutting and other measures would reduce the movie rental store's debt from $1 billion to $100 million or less.
Toshiba BDX3000 3D Blu-ray player now shipping
Toshiba brought its promised BDX3000 Blu-ray player to the US on Wednesday. Nearly identical to the BDX3100 introduced in Europe recently, it can access online content from providers such as Netflix, Blockbuster On Demand, Pandora radio and Vudu content thanks to its Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections. Like other Toshiba Blu-ray players, it will upconvert standard DVDs and plays back videos, photos and music from a USB drive or SDHC memory card.
Google plans global paid movies through YouTube
An inside news tip this evening has hinted that Google plans to significantly expand its YouTube movie rentals to a full-fledged, worldwide service. Several contacts told the Financial Times that talks are underway for a service that would stream major movie releases and which would be tied into both Google's search engine and YouTube. Movies would cost $5 to rent and would be available at the same time as on Blu-ray, DVD and Internet services.
Blockbuster warns of imminent bankruptcy
Blockbuster is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy under the weight of competition from Internet services, sources said late Thursday. Attendees of a top-level meeting told the LA Times that Blockbuster was warning major movie studios of a "pre-planned" Chapter 11 bankruptcy likely for mid-September. The move would give it a chance to reorganize, offloading at least some of its $920 million in debt and letting it out of lease requirements for at least 500 failing stores.