Best Buy customers can start downloading movies straight to their LG Blu-ray player soon, thanks to a new download service launched by the retailer later this month. The service will be called CinemaNow – a name that brings back memories for digital media insiders.


Updated: Best Buy will start selling movie downloads, accessible through connected TV sets, Blu-ray players and PCs, by the end of the month, the company said today. The service will initially be available through all of LG’s connected Blu-ray players and home theater systems, with Best Buy’s house brand Insignia and other manufacturers expected to provide support in the coming months.

The retailer’s download service will be powered by Sonic Solutions, which has been providing similar services for Blockbuster as well as selling downloads on its own Cinemanow.com website. However, Sonic Solutions recently announced that CinemaNow is now being called RoxioNow, and today we know why: Best Buy has bought the CinemaNow brand from Sonic and is going to exclusively use it for the download service it announced today.

Best Buy also said that it’s going to launch an “improved and updated version” of CinemaNow with an “advanced user interface and expanded video playback features” later this year. Mentioning an upcoming relaunch of the service on the day you’re announcing the launch? Now that’s what I’d call managing expectations.

Paid movie downloads have been disappointing across the board, with ScreenDigest recently estimating that the industry only made $291 million from download-to-own sales and Internet VOD in 2009. I recently interviewed Sonic Solutions CEO Dave Habiger, and he told me that things will change thanks to more titles being available online this year than ever before. Check out the complete interview below.

Update: Sonic Solutions’ SVP of strategy Mark Ely told me that the Cinemanow.com website will soon reflect the change of ownership, and explained that his company decided to give up on its consumer business and solely focus on powering other services to prevent the perception that it was directly competing with its customers’ download platforms.


Photo courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user roblawton.

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