Hard to get too excited about the link-up of Blockbuster and Samsung — a couple of second-stringers when it comes to quality — but now we have OnDemand movies streaming through the hardware maker’s machines.
New Samsung HDTVs, home theater systems and Blu-ray players will be incorporating the OnDemand digital delivery service, a rival to various VOD schemes and Netflix’s Watch Instantly.
The “select” Samsung hardware will be showing up at retailers in the fall. In addition, current owners of “select” 2009 Samsung Blu-ray players and home theater systems, as well as Samsung LCD and Plasma HDTVs Series 650 and above, and LED HDTVs Series 7000 and above, get the OnDemand after firmware updates. The machines would have to be connected to the Internet.
Blockbuster OnDemand will have “preferred positioning on the Blu-ray interfaces,” the companies said. Meaning who shell out out for the hardware and don’t care for the service get to look at what amounts to an ad for Blockbuster as they boot up.
Blockbuster’s streaming media service comes into “millions” of new homes under the deal. Those potential viewers will be freed of the need for the existing OnDemand set-top box.
Blockbuster differs from Netflix’s largely catalog-driven Watch Instantly by offering current films and TV shows at the going rate. The Blockbuster service also offers an on-screen interface that doesn’t call for queue management via PC.
Watch Instantly requires a pain-in-the-rear double queue for those who want to watch a movie that streams in via PC and then to a digital device such as the Xbox 360.
Access to the Blockbuster streaming service is free; they company gets paid by the rental. Watch Instantly comes at no extra charge with a Netflix subscription.
Blockbuster chieftain Jim Keyes vows “the newest hit movies and high definition Blu-ray product” — say what? — the latter a major head-scratcher.
As part of the deal, of course, Blockbuster’s brick-and-mortar stores and web site will sell Samsung’s products. The rental dinosaur also made an OnDemand deal with TiVo.
Netflix’s streaming partners include Samsung, Tivo, Sony, LG and Microsoft via its Xbox 360.
I’m underwhelmed by Netflix’s Watch Instantly, and more than dubious that Blockbuster will be the one to make this type of direct digital delivery work. The presence of Samsung America in the chain is even more troubling, considering that company’s problematic machines and its Nixonian customer service.
But you never know.
Meanwhile, the CBS network has joined the other On Demand, from Comcast cable. The service, staggering about in some sort of beta, aims to give cable subscribers access to digital video content without additional fees. The handle is “TV Everywhere,” meaning the subs can get programming by streaming and downloading to a variety of digital devices, such as computers and mobile phones.
The test universe is something like 5,000 Comcast homes. The meta plan is to divert those viewers from Hulu and similar online services that give away their ad-supported content.
TV Everywhere driver Time Warner threw HBO content into the mix a few days ago. Starz! is aboard as well, for what it’s worth.
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