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Blockbuster Throws Hat into Movie Download Business 72

jtroutman writes "Stepping into the ring to compete with entities such as Amazon, CinemaNow and, of course, NetFlix, Blockbuster announced today the acquisition of Movielink, LLC. The deal had been scheduled to take place earlier this year, but was quashed amid trouble between the then CEO, John Antioco, and the Board of Directors."
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Blockbuster Throws Hat into Movie Download Business

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  • by jschroering ( 611063 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:13AM (#20168007)
    will be downloadable, too..

    • This is all great but can they compete with Bit Torrent?

      I know it's shocking but BT is NOT just for grabbing the latest Fedora Core ISO.
      • by shmlco ( 594907 )
        I know it's shocking but some people use it for just that, and get our content legally. At 3 billion plus songs, and who knows how many TV shows and movies, iTunes seems to be competing with BT just fine.

        However, as you put it the question is whether or not MovieLink can be competitive, and that's debatable. Given the lengths to which their content had been locked down, then nailed down, then buried in concrete... I'd say no. BB can't effect more change than the studio's will allow, and they've been noticea
  • This comes on the heels of the Netflix DRM being 'broken'. I guess Blockbuster wants to be a 'me too' here, as well.
    • I just wish NetFlix's "Watch Now" feature didn't require Windows + Internet Explorer. That's just annoying.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nsayer ( 86181 ) *
        Reed Hastings has said that they want to make Watch Now available on every screen possible, be it a PC, Mac, TV or mobile.

        A few months ago, Netflix did a demo at the Silverlight coming-out party. I suspect that once Silverlight supports the DRM crap that that's how they'll make their cross-platform thing happen.

        • A few months ago, Netflix did a demo at the Silverlight coming-out party.

          I suspect this demo is nothing more than Microsoft marketing dollars at work. Pretty typical of a smart marketer like Microsoft.

          They decide to have MS paid people (subcontractors likely) code a Siverlight demo application that has Netflix branding over it. Microsoft gets permission from Netflix, and Netflix gets their brand shown (free advertising paid for by Microsoft).

          In other words, it wasn't Netflix spending any money or even th
    • Re:Oh, the Irony! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Professor_UNIX ( 867045 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:17AM (#20168029)
      I subscribe to Netflix and I'd just be happy if they supported Macs instead of just Windows. As it is now I can't make any use of their service that I am apparently entitled to. I'm probably one of their model customers though since I've had the same set of 3 movies for 3 or 4 months now and I just forget to return them.
      • Not to worry, dude. I'm thinking Apple has gotta eventually (i.e., within a year) add an iTunes subscription model to facilitate sales of AppleTV. Think about it: ten of your favorite TV shows, and a few 'queued' movies streamed weekly to iTunes/AppleTV, for 15 bucks a month. Sweeeet...
        • Except Apple has not 10, not 9, not 8 but zero of my favorite movies available on iTunes. iTunes is fine for music if you don't mind DRM (I have yet to find a track that I want that is DRM free), but I've ended up using Amazon Unbox for movies. Just don't run it in BootCamp, apparently the issues with the clock in windows can cause the movie to "expire" somewhat before its actual expiration date.
      • by eozh ( 523586 )
        Today they talked about why Watch Now is not avalable for Macs on their blog: n-mac-firefox-and.html []

        According to them it's because there are no publicly available DRM systems for the Mac that the studios recognize.

      • Are you kidding? You are the IDEAL customer. They spend much less money on you than a person who uses their system heavily, while you still pay the monthly fee.
  • by thanatos_x ( 1086171 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:19AM (#20168041)
    towel soon to follow.
  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:25AM (#20168089) Journal
    Once again, I'm sure this will be doomed to failure. It will be riddled with DRM and have all sorts of technological (if not outright legal) hurdles to get the movies I buy to play when and where I want them.

    The first company that manages to convince studios to release simple file downloads in common formats that are either/both a) ready to burn to DVD or b) ready to play on an ipod or appleTV and completely unencumbered by any manner of DRM will clean up.

    But for now, the only way for me to get DRM-free movies is to buy the DVD and rip the content using quasi legal (or illegal depending on your perspective) methods. How else am I to get them loaded on my media server or transcoded for viewing on my ipod?

    It's the same for music. Right now, I either get them at where I have a subscription, or the itunes plus store, or I rip CDs. It's silly and wasteful to buy a physical CD, rip it once, and put it on the shelf. As storage capacity increases, this too will happen for movies/DVDs as it has for music/CDs.

    • by MC Negro ( 780194 ) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:23AM (#20168705) Journal

      Once again, I'm sure this will be doomed to failure. It will be riddled with DRM and have all sorts of technological (if not outright legal) hurdles to get the movies I buy to play when and where I want them.
      It's the same for music.
      I agree with the sentiment, but not the reasoning. DRM didn't hinder the adoption of iTMS (I think, in part, because most people didn't really notice it.)

      I think it will fail because :
      1. Most people don't watch movies on their computer, and most people don't have media center PCs.
      2. Those that do probably already use something like iTunes, Amazon's Unbox, Vongo or CinemaNow or one of the many other services out there.
      And since it doesn't appear that the movies can be burned to DVD, I don't see it becoming a bit hit with the mainstream. At no point do I see the consumer avoiding the service because of copy restrictions.

      Of course, I could be wrong.
      • by Nipok Nek ( 87328 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:59AM (#20169151)
        Unless they do what Amazon did and partner with TiVo. Then suddenly LOTS of people have access.
      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
        And since it doesn't appear that the movies can be burned to DVD

        Does the word burned make it not count as a copy restriction?
        • And since it doesn't appear that the movies can be burned to DVD

          Does the word burned make it not count as a copy restriction?
          I assumed the lack of DVD-burning had more to do with the resolution or codec - not so much the DRM.
      • Nope, iTunes is successful because it's NOT a store. It's a music catalog program that, as a feature, includes a music store and video support.

        Netflix does have the same technology, though, and the same crappy DRM. It's only playable on Windows, in Internet Explorer, using Windows Media Player, and only on a primary monitor. It won't play out of SVideo ports even. That also means that there's a sizeable chunk of people who won't use it.

        Still, I don't think it'll really help BB. It doesn't help N
      • by guruevi ( 827432 )
        Exactly, and that is what we want, not notice it. The iTMS did so great because it was integrated with iPod's of course but their DRM wasn't restrictive. Want a CD for the car or DVD player: just burn it, play it on your computer, play it on your iPod, play it on your AppleTV, share it with people in your household.

        That's what most people want, the only restriction (and biggest complaint) was that you couldn't just use it simply on any ol' MP3 player, but is easily circumventable (and condoned and supported
    • Once again, I'm sure this will be doomed to failure. It will be riddled with DRM and have all sorts of technological (if not outright legal) hurdles to get the movies I buy to play when and where I want them.

      I use Netflix, and it seems to work pretty well for me. Of course, I'm just watching them on my PC as they intended and not trying to store them for posterity because that would be dishonest.

      • I don't mind not being able to save for posterity.

        Most of these things I'm only going to watch once. I mean, as nice as having my own copy of all the Doctor Who episodes out on DVD would be (which are what I'm currently going through on Netflix streaming)...there doesn't exist enough time in my life to watch all the things I plan to twice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 )
      Oh come on! Obviously DRM has been abused, and will continue to be. But movie rental is a perfect example of using DRM in a "correct and fair way". I mean, you don't plan on keeping the movie long after you rented it, do you?

      No, I think I great idea would be to standardize the system so a user can rent movies online through a set-top box. Sure, using a media console tied to your PC provides more options, but I find it's too complicated for your average user.
      • You already can rent movies through your regular digital cable set-top box. It's usually called On-Demand or something. It would be nice to be able to choose from different providers, but I wouldn't want to have to add an extra set top box, just to rent movies.
        • On-Demand is ok, provided you have a reliable cable connection being that you're streaming the media as it's being played. With a set-top box, it could download the file before playback starts.

          "I wouldn't want to have to add an extra set top box, just to rent movies"

          I agree. In fact now that I think about it, the X-Box 360 and PS3 could provide this ability via software update. Now that would be interesting!
    • by encoderer ( 1060616 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @10:53AM (#20169873)
      I love the NetFlix WatchNow system. Yes, it's DRM protected, and Windows-Only, but I love it. I can't wait until they have a larger selection (they're adding new movies weekly). The system just works. It starts streaming almost instantly and the audio/video quality is sub-dvd but greater than VHS and greater than most Torrent movies.

      I can't easily rip it. WHO CARES? At any time, I can log back on to Netflix, and WATCH IT AGAIN. FOR FREE. This notion that all DRM is the devil is just silly. NetFlix WatchNow costs me nothing. It was added to my account at no extra charge. Every month I get 30 free hours of WatchNow.

      My laptop has Digital-Out for video and Audio. I set it on the tv, close the lid, hook it up to the stereo and television, and there it is. It's just a SMIDGEN more difficult than the VOD that comes thru my cable box.

    • I personally see video differently then music. I don't re-watch stuff therefore I have no need for non drm or the need to burn to DVD. I can see one price for a rental (DRM required) and one for purchase no DRM. Giving I think this service to rental burning to DVD is not required. So for it to succeed I think it needs to be accessible from the TV and compete on price with VOD from cable providers. Most people don't have computer hooked up to their home entertainment system which I think is the biggest prob
    • by jadin ( 65295 )
      You're assuming they will be selling movies. Here's another possibility:

      You rent a movie for a few bucks. Watch it until your license expires (X plays or X days) and it deletes itself when you're done. You pay $3 bucks a movie or so. Or else subscribe for $10-20 bucks a month. Just like their Total Access, except instead of mailing the DVDs you download them.

      It makes for a profitable business model for the _rental_ market. One that has a good possibility of success.
    • I think that you are missing the market that Blockbuster is trying to appeal to with this move. Die-hard tech-savvy types (like us) are always going to be a tough nut to break for reasons such as DRM concerns, etc. But this is more of a direct compete with Netflix's current model where you have access to watch movies online instead of wait for them to be delivered. This move will offer additional ways for existing customers to access content as well as sway Netflix customers over to Blockbuster's version
  • rebound (Score:5, Funny)

    by SolusSD ( 680489 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:55AM (#20168373) Homepage
    blockbuster has really rebounded from their near bankrupt late 90s days... but they're starting to feel like the "best buy" of movie/game rental. maybe its the colors.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by thanatos_x ( 1086171 )
      I don't think I'd call what they're doing a rebound... Closing 282 stores this year, in addition to past closures... and the almighty stock price is near it's lowest 5 year point of 4$/share (to be fair it's been there a few times before though...) closing.html []
      • Re:rebound (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:13AM (#20168573)
        And those closed stores mean closed online accounts as well. The online experience with them was always subpar for me compared to netflix, with their only advantage the onsite extra rentals. We don't have a blockbuster in town anymore, so tossed our online account as well.
        • Re:rebound (Score:5, Informative)

          by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:43AM (#20168939) Homepage Journal
          I would agree that if it wasn't for the free in-store rentals, my wife and I would have Netflix, but it's something we simply can't pass up. Basically now you just bring in your finished mailed DVD and get a free rental from the store. I'm too lazy to do that on my own but my wife is more than happy to pick something up, so more power to us I guess.

          I wouldn't mind having multiple queues though like Netflix has. It's really kind of annoying getting 10 chick flicks in a row.
          • would agree that if it wasn't for the free in-store rentals, my wife and I would have Netflix, but it's something we simply can't pass up. Basically now you just bring in your finished mailed DVD and get a free rental from the store.

            I was very close to signing up for BlockBuster's service. However I remembered that the store in my town is horrible: their stock is laughable and they never have what I want. I walked through the store a couple of times trying to find movies on the list I'd want to initially

        • by morari ( 1080535 )
          I haven't had a Blockbuster in my area in years (and good riddance), but the in-store rental never seemed like too much of a perk unless you're into the recently released crap that they make sure to keep in stock. I'm not sure if their online selection is any better, but NetFlix allows me to find just about any film I could ever think of with the exception of a few super obscure ones. And not to sound like a commercial or anything but NetFlix has pretty darn good customer service. They've yet to let me down
      • There was a post on techcrunch about this esperate-to-do-something-buys-a-loser/ [] The summary: "But Movielink certainly isn't going to be a silver bullet for Blockbuster. We looked at all of the players in Movielink's space last October. Their competitors include, besides Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, CinemaNow and Guba (and, let's be honest, BitTorrent). Movielink has a very deep library of movies, but they are DRM'd to the hilt and the studios force them to p
  • Didn't Blockbuster already try this (or at least announce that they're going to try it): .html []

    That's from 2005! Did they just never follow through? What happened?

    • No, that is not the same. You see, the article you mentioned was about online rentals, so you do the movie selection process online, but still get a physical object (the DVD) through the mail.

      Now Blockbuster enters the movie download business, so you actually get no physical object at all, you select the movie online and then proceed to download it. I think they refused to do this until now, so this is not old news, at least for Blockbuster.
  • Video rental companies need to stop chasing the home computer streaming media dragon and get their vast libraries available to the television for use in VoD. The way of the future is all media converges on the television which will be linked in to the home network. It's time to make deals with the cable companies that both sides can really use.
    • by jcausey ( 253286 )
      While I agree with your statement that eventually media convergence will occur (VoD, etc), I think that's exactly what Blockbuster is trying to do here. We're talking about a large, publicly traded company right? They must (at least in some small way) consider the long term effect of the industry on their business to stay relevant. They ARE creating a VoD service. I don't care if it's DRM-laden and doesn't work with the cable boxes -- that will only hurt them in the short term.

      Long term, VoD will be a reali
      • I too agree with your statement about Internet for delivery, but I think by targeting it at the consumer first is a mistake that is bound to fail as there is just not a large enough VoD on home computer market out there and that a failure in the first attempt will make these large companies reluctant to invest any time and money in any further VoD attempts.

        Of course one might say what does that matter? Sooner or later a media company will get it right and it will happen. It is just aggrevating to have to wa
  • I've been a loyal NetFlix customer for a while. Their site is well made and their service works as advertised. Contrast this to the terrible experiences I've had with Blockbuster in the past. But I'm not one to hold a grudge. Blockbuster can win me back by making the right moves. They offer in store swapping of movies which is a small win, but not enough to make me switch. Now, they want to compete with NetFlix download service, which is all well and good, and which targets the same audience, people who wan

  • by Kong99 ( 618393 ) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:19PM (#20171113)
    My family has been using NetFlix since 2003. We're heavy users. The download option works quite well, IMO. It is fast and the quality, image size is good. Currently the selection is lacking and at this time there is a 30 hour per month limit on the downloads and I can find no option to increase this. My guess is that Netflix is slowing ramping up their DL busines, I think one reason new releases are not available is because of bandwidth issues. I would say so far so good, but they've got a ways to to go still.

    My major complaint with Netflix is the way the website is designed, it needs a major overhaul. In particular browsing is a pain in the arse. Categories need to be grouped better, they need to stop having a unique listing for each season when browsing, especially for TV. Star Trek needs a listing for TOS, New Gen, Deep Space Nine, etc, then within each of these list out each season. Searching function needs work as well.

    • The number of hours of movies you can watch per month is based on how many dollars you pay per month.
  • I'm still sticking with It's a San Francisco based DVD rental by mail company, plus they have DivX Video on Demand rental and download to own. They have a good selection of mainstream as well as obscure movies... plus porn.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright