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Blinkbox Getting UltraViolet, Sold or Shuttered

1 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Conflicting reports suggest business at the Tesco-owned digital video platform is in a flux

It’s been quite a week for Blinkbox, the electronic sellthrough movie and TV show platform owned by British supermarket chain Tesco.

At the PEVE Entertainment Business conference Sept. 30 in London, Adrian Letts, managing director of Blinkbox, announced the platform would “imminently” bow a digital content locker with UltraViolet functionality.

Letts said final details surrounding the venture were being ironed out with the studios and related content partners. Blinkbox, which offers more than 10,000 digital titles for retail and rental, is considered a key driver in consumer adoption of UV in the United Kingdom. The platform has generated more than 1.5 million registered accounts in the U.K. without a formal launch, according to the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem.

Indeed, 12% of respondents in a survey presented at PEVE by YouGov, a London-based Internet market research firm, said they would consider trying UltraViolet with their next packaged-media purchase. Another 55% of respondents who have tried UV said they would do so again, while 22% who had not tried the digital locker said they would do so going forward.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest new Tesco CEO Dave Lewis is looking to sell or shutter Blinkbox following an internal review of Tesco’s core assets. The chain is one of the largest packaged-media retailers in the U.K.

Lewis is under pressure to right Britain’s largest supermarket retailer after it recently disclosed it had overstated half-year net income by more than $400 million. The news sent Tesco’s stock plunging and resulted in the government conducting an investigation to see if senior officials at Tesco “cooked the books” to mask slumping profits.

Indeed, Lewis reportedly has ordered senior executives to man store floors during the upcoming Christmas holidays. In addition, the chief executive is seen wanting Tesco to focus more on the grocery business than ancillary ventures such as Blinkbox. A reality Letts appeared to acknowledge.

“When a customer is starting to think digitally, when they are buying a mobile device, console or TV, those are probably better opportunities to market UV to customers than when they are in store buying groceries,” Letts said, as reported by Cue Entertainment.

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