CinemaNow just won’t go away quietly — now the pioneering movie download service has popped up in a noisy deal with Best Buy, which is trying to carve out a spot in the non-DVD/Blu-ray future.
The big box retailer partnered with CinemaNow owner Sonic Solutions to provide streaming content via prefab setups in the retailer’s lineup of “connected consumer electronics” such as TVs and Blu-ray players. Best Buy says it’s in talks with various hardware manufacturers.
In theory, Best Buy is taking on Amazon, the iTunes Store and Netflix in the movie streaming space.
The retailer said it would start promoting digital delivery in its many stores (where DVDs and Blu-rays already are starting to lose floor space.) Remember, Best Buy bought what’s left of Napster in 2008.
Selling low-fi electronics to Joe and Mrs. Sixpack, of course, offers Best Buy a killer opportunity to push its own streaming-content brand. No name or pricing structure was announced, although the Los Angeles Times said Best Buy planned to experiment with various models, including subscriptions and ad sponsorship.
Here comes the Best Buy-CinemaNow deal’s canned statement: “We expect on-demand entertainment to quickly grow into a mass market activity, with digital sell-through and rental becoming a significant new revenue stream for content owners,” said Dave Habiger, president and CEO of Sonic Solutions.
CinemaNow, no longer a standalone, claims to have more than 20,000 movies at the ready. Unfortunately, many are the same “classics” and weary catalog titles found on Netflix’s Watch Instantly. Roxio CinemaNow’s biggest partner is Blockbuster, although it’s done some preliminary dealing with Netflix on streaming content.
Best Buy said the movie downloads would be tried on “web-connected television sets, portable media players, PCs, Blu-ray Disc players, set-top boxes and mobile phones.” (Sonic Solutions calls that sort of thing the “Roxio CinemaNow ecosystem.”)
Apple, meanwhile, is said to be working on a subscription TV service that would run off the existing iTunes Store software. The $30 or so subscription fee is relatively steep, but could be a good deal for the many people who now get their TV programming online (compared with TV and satellite). Disney is expected to sign on first, reports Peter Kafka of All Things Digital.