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Best Buy Bows 99-Cent Digital Movie Rentals

16 Aug, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Best Buy

Taking a page from the kiosk playbook, Best Buy Co. is offering movie rentals for 99 cents through its CinemaNow digital service, including recent releases The Bounty Hunter and Kick-Ass, among others.

The No. 1 consumer electronics retailer disclosed the special offering in a Sunday newspaper circular outlining how to use CinemaNow. The circular also included related new electronic sellthrough and DVD/Blu-ray Disc releases.

CinemaNow typically charges from $2.99 to $3.99 for electronic rentals via 48-hour viewing window.

Ralph Schackart, analyst with William Blair & Co. in Chicago, said the aggressive posture taken by Best Buy signals a likely emerging trend among third-party digital content aggregators seeking to create consumer awareness of digital distribution of movie rentals.

“This is the most notable focus that Best Buy has made on CinemaNow to date,” Schackart wrote in a note. “We expect greater CinemaNow focus and rollout to continue.”

Indeed, Schackart said Best Buy is training employees on CinemaNow and working with vendors to have the service installed on all Internet-connected media devices. He said the retailer is also working with studios for content rights/exclusivity, etc., and will begin changing the physical appearance of stores to help create greater consumer awareness.

Minneapolis-based Best Buy, which earlier this year acquired the brand rights to CinemaNow from Sonic Solutions, now uses the name for its nascent digital entertainment service. Sonic, in turn, rebranded its digital distribution software, used by myriad third-party retailers such as Blockbuster, Sears and Kmart, to RoxioNow.

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