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Blockbuster to Stream Movies on Samsung Devices

14 Jul, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blockbuster Inc. July 14 said it signed a deal with Samsung Electronics America to offer its OnDemand streaming service on Web-enabled high-definition televisions, Blu-ray players and home theater systems starting this fall.

Consumers who already own select 2009 Samsung Blu-ray players and home theater systems, as well as Samsung LCD and Plasma HDTVs Series 650 and above, and Samsung LED HDTVs Series 7000 and above, can access Blockbuster OnDemand for free through a firmware upgrade (Blu-ray players and home theater systems) or downloading the Blockbuster OnDemand widget (HDTVs).

Blockbuster will also sell integrated Samsung Blu-ray players at corporate-owned stores, select franchise stores and Samsung retail channels, in addition to online at Blockbuster.com.

“Our strategic alliance with Blockbuster means that we will provide consumers another significant avenue to access rich content and a great viewing experience,” said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America.

The move by the Dallas-based No. 1 DVD rental service would appear to be an effort to maintain a competitive balance with rival Netflix Inc., which has streaming deals for Blu-ray players from Samsung, LG Electronics and Sony, in addition to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game system and TiVo digital video recording devices. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based online DVD rental pioneer recently added its Watch Instantly streaming service to Internet-connected Sony Bravia HDTVs.

Netflix streams require a monthly subscription while Blockbuster OnDemand content is available on a pay-per-view basis from $1.99.

“It’s one thing to be on a PC. It’s another to have a Blockbuster digital movie service in millions of homes throughout America,” Kevin Lewis, SVP of digital entertainment with Blockbuster, told the Los Angeles Times. “That, to me, signifies that this is no longer a hobbyist thing.”

Lewis’ statement could be in reference to a comment made last year by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who characterized the nascent movie streaming business, including efforts by Apple TV, as largely a hobby.

Regardless, Edward Woo, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles, said Blockbuster’s streaming efforts have a way to go since Netflix has more CE partners.

“Blockbuster does have the advantage that its streaming service charges per title and that it offers newer movies compared to predominantly catalogue with Netflix,” Woo said. “This will not keep naysayers at bay though, as Blockbuster has way too many challenges going on right now.”


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