Blockbuster is planning to launch a set-top box to deliver movies on-demand through its Movielink service in time for the holidays. Blockbuster Chairman and CEO Jim Keyes made the announcement during a conference call with investors this week.
Keyes didn’t offer any other details like pricing or availability, but his movie rental company is once again playing catch up with Netflix, which has gone full-steam ahead with its movie streaming service this year, partnering with Roku, TiVo, Microsoft’s Xbox, Samsung and LG Blu-Ray players, as well as PCs and Macs. Not to mention Netflix delivering some of those streams in HD.
Blockbuster has been through an… interesting year. It made a bizarre bid to buy Circuit City back in April (calmer heads prevailed and it backed out). Then it was reported that the rental chain was in talks to join up with the new premium channel formed by Viacom, Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. Blockbuster also unveiled plans to put kiosks in its stores to offer movie download to portable media players (except for iPods).
Earlier this year, Keyes commented on the set-top possibilities for Blockbuster, telling paidContent “Is there any real urgency for us to go out there and create a whizbang set-top box? No. Are we interested long-term in being in that space? Sure.” Guess there was a little urgency.
Keyes also said during this week’s conference call that the company will debut a Blockbuster widget on Intel-manufactured chips embedded in IPTV monitors.
Will the Blockbuster brand be enough to help its direct movie delivery break through the clutter of set-top boxes? We’ll need more information before we make a final judgment, but with Netflix out so far ahead, Blockbuster definitely has its work cut out for it.