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Samsung Bows Devices with ‘Blockbuster On Demand’

14 Oct, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blockbuster Inc.’s fledgling video-on-demand (VOD) service got another boost when Samsung Electronics America Oct. 14 said it would include the feature in select high-definition flat-panel televisions, Blu-ray Disc players and Blu-ray integrated home theater systems.

Dallas-based Blockbuster, which pulled back a few years ago in the market share battle for online DVD rentals with Netflix, has ratcheted up efforts to lure consumers and interest away from Netflix’s streaming service, Watch Instantly.

Netflix offers more than 12,000 titles to stream to subscribers via the Microsoft Xbox 360, Roku digital video player, LG Electronics’ BD300 Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player, Samsung’s BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 players and TiVo Series 3, HD and HDXL broadband digital video recorders.

Blockbuster On Demand also is available on TiVo digital video recorders and Roxio devices.

Unlike Netflix’s streaming, the Blockbuster VOD service (formerly Movielink), offers (for a fee) major new releases, including Year One, State of Play, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

VOD rentals range from $2.99 to $3.99, while purchases range from $7.99 to $19.99.

Samsung Blu-ray players with the integrated Blockbuster On Demand will be sold in Blockbuster corporate-owned stores and participating franchise stores.

"This is another real example … to access and enjoy a broad variety of high quality content through innovation, and really pushing the envelope with defining what connected TV experiences can deliver," said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America. "Whether it's renting their favorite Blu-ray movie from Blockbuster or streaming their favorite content, our goal is to take the TV-watching experience to new levels and deliver maximum value."

Edward Woo, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles who covers Blockbuster stock, said the challenge for Blockbuster is not gaining VOD access to CE devices, but rather getting consumers to accept the concept of watching and paying for movies on demand.

“Netflix has been successful in that it doesn't charge extra for the streaming service, so [subscribers] are using it a lot,” Woo said. “Blockbuster does have better content, but the cost is a lot higher as perceived by the consumer who is conditioned to think Netflix Watch Instantly is free and VOD is not.”

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