“We’re exploring our options, so it’s not surprising there are rumors out there”, says a Blockbuster spokeswoman.
The latest rumor, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, is that the company best known for its ‘bricks and mortar’ video rental business wants to join the recently announced Hollywood joint venture, led by Viacom, to create a new premium TV channel and Video-On-Demand (VOD) service. The other existing partners are Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate.
In return for investing, Blockbuster would get digital rights to the new channel’s programming, “people familiar with the situation” told the WSJ.
Blockbuster is an obvious possible partner. It used to be owned by Viacom, whose executives know its business well. Blockbuster also has been casting its net wide for new partners as it attempts to spruce up its video-rental business model with new digital ventures. Last year, it acquired Internet movie provider Movielink to offer video-download services to customers, and it has focused on forging exclusive content deals for its various services.
Ironically, the Viacom-led joint venture is already being compared negatively to the original Movielink service, which started life in 2002 as a joint venture between Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and MGM, but failed to resonate with users. Last August Movielink was acquired by Blockbuster.