Walmart's acquisition of Vudu last year may have been a good indicator of the future of online video, or at least of one part of it: retailers looking at movie streaming services as a good bump for their bottom line. British supermarket giant Tesco today bought a majority share of U.K. movie streaming service Blinkbox, citing a desire to give customers more options for video entertainment.
"Whether customers want to own the DVD, download a digital movie, stream a rental or all three, Tesco is committed to giving customers choice," said Tesco U.K. CEO Richard Brasher.
"We want to allow them to decide how they access entertainment content and on which devices, whether it's on PC, TV or tablet."
Blinkbox was launched in 2008 by Michael Comish and Adrian Letts, with financial backing from Arts Alliance, Eden Ventures and Nordic Ventures.
It now sees more than 2 million visitors per month. It has some 9,000 Hollywood movies and a large catalog of TV series available, with additional content becoming available every month.
The company is the only one in the U.K. to have a combined free/pay "freemium" offering, allowing users to stream paid-for feature titles alongside free, advert-supported TV and film content. It works on PCs, Mac and the PS3, and is scheduled to go live on Samsung internet connected TVs soon, with other tablet and TV devices to follow throughout 2011, including Britain's YouView television service, the BBC-supported IPTV platform that's scheduled to roll out in the U.K. next year.
The company was founded by former Channel 4 and Vodafone execs Michael Comish and Adrian Letts, with financial backing from Arts Alliance, Eden Ventures and Nordic Ventures.
Tesco bought an 80 percent stake in the company from Eden Ventures and Nordic Venture Partners. Terms were not disclosed.
Earlier this year, U.S. e-tail giant Amazon.com bought U.K.-based LoveFilm, which operates a DVD-by-mail and streaming content service similar to Netflix.
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