Playing catch up, Blockbuster partners with CinemaNow

If you can’t compete then partner

In a bid to play catch up with the likes of Apple, Netflix, Sony and Microsoft, video rental chain Blockbuster has signed a strategic partnership with Sonic Solutions, owners of the video download store CinemaNow. The move is designed to accelerate the company’s move into online video by pooling the two companies’ digital movie libraries, as well as tapping into CinemaNow’s existing ecosystem of supported devices, which includes portable media players, Blu-ray Disc players, personal video recorders (PVRs), set-top boxes, mobile phones and Web-connected television sets.

Blockbuster’s branding will replace CinemaNow’s, while Sonic Solutions’ technology will power the combined offering.

Jim Keyes, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO: “Blockbuster is a ubiquitous entertainment presence in the physical world. Through this alliance with Sonic, we plan to become a ubiquitous presence in the digital world as well. Our goal is to offer consumers the most digital content, the most accessibility, via the most devices, both in- and out of home.”

Of course, Blockbuster’s video download plans were already underway after the company acquired Movielink, a previous joint venture between Hollywood studios Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and MGM. That was back in August 07, and it took a further fifteen months before the re-branded Blockbuster OnDemand service finally got its own set-top box. With progress that slow, it’s no wonder the company feels the need for a new technology partner, and one with established relationships with consumer electronics companies. It’s in this area where competitor Netflix has made rapid progress over the past year by getting its Watch Instantly video streaming service onto Microsoft’s XBox 360 games console, Internet set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and Internet-connected TVs.

Dave Habiger, president and CEO, Sonic Solutions: “With more and more broadband-enabled consumer electronics hitting the market, there is a growing need for a service that gives consumers access to premium entertainment on any device, anytime and anywhere By pairing Sonic’s digital delivery technology with Blockbuster’s trusted brand and library of content, we enable any CE manufacturer to add an impressive digital movie service to its product offerings and in doing so, create the most flexible digital entertainment service for consumers.”

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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