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HBO Selling Digital Access at Costco

15 Jan, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

HBO Home Entertainment has launched a campaign aimed at selling digital access (with UltraViolet functionality) to select TV series inside a retail store. The pay-TV channel is marketing the $23.99 HBO Digital HD card at special point-of-purchase displays at Costco Wholesale stores through the end of January.

Costco, which is the nation’s fifth-largest retailer, operating more than 550 stores and generating $64 billion in fiscal 2013 revenue, has been a significant retailer of packaged media, including HBO content.

Consumers can choose from HBO series including “Game of Thrones,” “True Blood,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Detective,” which are redeemable via the Flixster Movie Store. Both HBO and Flixster are owned by Time Warner.

Industry-backed UltraViolet enables consumers to access the shows and movies (after registration) from the cloud via any UV-compatible website.

HBO eyes the Digital HD card as a starter kit for consumers who want to test the waters of digital ownership to start their collections. The card also doubles as a gift card, since the recipient can choose the program that he or she wants to download.

“So many consumers still head to their local brick-and-mortar retail store to purchase their favorite TV shows and films on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. Our HBO Digital HD card is an exciting new way to integrate the digital product in a physical environment,” Sofia Chang, EVP and GM of HBO Home Entertainment, said in a statement.

While brick-and-mortar retailers selling digital access to entertainment isn't new, the HBO Digita HD card offers an alternative. Purchase of the card enables the consumer to choose from a selection of content. By comparison, Best Buy markets digital access via CinemaNow to individual content on store shelves, a strategy duplicated by Target through its Target Ticket online service.

Last year, Walmart launched a platform designed to simplify the process for consumers to get access to digital versions of packaged-media purchases.

Dubbed “InstaWatch,” the platform enables a consumer of a DVD or Blu-ray Disc movie purchased at Walmart to scan the store receipt through a special "SavingsCatcher" app on a mobile phone to access the digital file on Vudu.com.

"Our [HBO Digital HD] card is designed to give the consumer a choice of multiple titles – which is not something you can get at any of these other retailers at the moment," said an HBO spokesperson.

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