Six Questions: Loveena Chera — Director, CinemaNow Canada28 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
When Best Buy bought CinemaNow in 2010 from Sonic Solutions (now Rovi Corp.), it initially considered changing the name to Best Buy VOD or Napster Video — the latter in reference to its ownership in the music download service.
The Minneapolis-based CE chain launched CinemaNow in Canada in 2011. Last September, CinemaNow Canada became the first digital service in the country to offer disc-to-digital service from a user’s home.
Today, CinemaNow is a major North American player in the burgeoning digital sellthrough and rental market, including being an early adopter of UltraViolet. The service is accessible on more than 1,000 Internet-connected and mobile devices, including TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, PlayStations, Xboxes, smartphones, tablets and PCs.
Home Media Magazine caught up with Loveena Chera, director of CinemaNow Canada and director of home entertainment and gaming categories with Best Buy Canada, to find out the status of digital sellthrough north of the border.
■ How has early release of select new-release titles (two weeks ahead of disc) affected consumer response to digital sellthrough of movies at CinemaNow Canada?
Chera: Early digital sellthrough releases have had a significant impact on our sales mix. Customers are clearly responding favorably to the early releases as the value offering is very easy to understand and act on.
■ Do CinemaNow Canada users prefer renting or buying digital titles?
Chera: Generally, our customers prefer to rent when they are given the option, but we are seeing much stronger and faster growth in sellthrough units. As Canadians get more acclimatized to owning digital movies, we expect that digital sellthrough will soon outgrow demand for rental on CinemaNow Canada.
■ How are consumers responding to UltraViolet? Are they registering for UV accounts?
Chera: We saw significant activation increases when we ran our UV Locker Load promotions over the past seven months. In fact, when we launched the Locker Load promotion, our UV activation rate increased by more than 500%.
■ How flexible are content owners to price flexibility on the consumer side? Is digital sellthrough still mandated by set pricing?
Chera: We’re actively working with all our studio partners on offering competitive pricing. We regularly keep our service updated with hot offers, and there are also exclusive offers for our Canadian Reward Zone members (Best Buy Canada).
■ Is CinemaNow Canada able to offer exclusive special features similar to what retailers get with disc?
Chera: Yes, we do on a regular basis. Customer response has been very positive. So we will definitely continue to offer exclusive content and other value adds to our digital customers.
■ Are there attempts made to cross-promote packaged-media sales with CinemaNow Canada at Best Buy and Future Shop?
Chera: Integrating the physical and digital customer experience is certainly our main priority. We recognize that Canadian customers are still busy exploring and learning about the digital space. Therefore, we want to ensure that we provide our customers with as many content consumption options as possible. Ultimately, this will ensure that we maintain a strong relationship with our customers today and set ourselves up to keep serving them as they adapt their media consumption habits.
We also recognize that CinemaNow adds tremendous value to all of the compatible devices and DVD/Blu-ray that we sell through our Best Buy and Future Shop stores, and vice versa, our strong sales of connected devices is a great leverage point for us to convert customers to digital consumers. We continuously work with all of our vendor partners to cross-promote and integrate physical and digital offerings in our brick-and-mortar, Web and CinemaNow storefronts to operate under a true unified business model.