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Blockbuster Offers $99 Broadband Movie Set Top
Though with no HD and no streaming, doesn't appear to be trying very hard...
by Karl Bode 03:21PM Tuesday Nov 25 2008 Tipped by Lets Go See Profile
With Netflix now offering SD & HD streaming via the Xbox 360 (and earlier this year, a $99 device by Roku), Blockbuster took their own shot today at the broadband TV delivery market by releasing a new Blockbuster streaming set-top by 2Wire. According to Reuters, $99 will net you the device and an initial 25 films, after which you'll pay $1.99 to $3.99 per film. Films last on the device for thirty days before being deleted. Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes tells the NY Times he has "limited expectations" for the device, in part because of poor broadband deployment:
"Digital downloads are not going to dominate the industry tomorrow," Mr. Keyes said, noting the limited capacity of Internet connections in the United States. Mr. Keyes added that the growing interest in high-definition video, which can take five or six times as long to download as standard video, will make Internet movies even less attractive. "You can drive to our local store and rent a Blu-ray disc in less time than it will take you to download a movie in high-def," he said.
When the CEO isn't particularly excited about a product's potential, it makes you wonder why exactly consumers should be. That said, he's right to note that the market he's trying to tap is still in its infancy. As Internet TV analyst firms have told us, it's going to take several more years for substantive Internet TV delivery to really take off. New entrants to this market have brick and mortar rental stores and cable VOD to do battle with.

Blockbuster isn't going to increase broadband deployment or speed up Internet film adoption. Particularly when their service is essentially a re-branded version of Movielink, which Blockbuster purchased in 2007 after several years of mediocre reviews. Blockbuster's made it clear they're worried about cannibalizing their real-world stores, part of the reason they're so far behind Netflix when it comes to online offerings and why Mr. Keyes seems so unenthusiastic.

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As for the box itself, it can download (not stream) 2,000 of the 10,000 online titles Blockbuster has to offer. That's in contrast to the 360 or Roku, both of which can stream the Netflix's catalog of 12,000 titles (but with subscription). The device comes with most standard connectivity options, including HDMI, 802.11 b/g (but not N) Wi-Fi, and composite, component and optical outputs.

Also, while it looks like the device is capable of offering HD content, it doesn't appear to support it at launch. With no streaming and no HD, you can't help but think Blockbuster just isn't trying very hard.

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