Blockbuster Unveils ‘OnDemand’ TV Service

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Dallas — National home video rental chain Blockbuster confirmed Tuesday the long speculation that it would jump into the online video space with a retail set-top product, similar to that offered by rival Netflix and its various manufacturing partners.

Blockbuster’s product, called the Tex MediaPoint digital media player, is said to provide “instant entertainment” from online content offered over the Blockbuster OnDemand service straight to connected television sets.

Blockbuster said it will offer “thousands of titles,” including such new releases as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Smart,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” “The Strangers” and “The Love Guru.”

Beginning today, San Jose, Calif.-based 2Wire, a provider of integrated broadband solutions, is supplying the MediaPoint digital media player, through the Blockbuster e-commerce store. For a limited time, the MediaPoint player will be available free with the advance rental of 25 Blockbuster OnDemand movies for $99. After the initial 25 rentals, Blockbuster will charge $1.99 per online rental.

Blockbuster said the players will begin shipping in time for the holiday season.

"The MediaPoint digital player, featuring Blockbuster OnDemand is entertainment made easy. We are bringing Blockbuster, and the thousands of movies in our digital library, straight to customers' televisions," stated Jim Keyes, Blockbuster chairman and CEO. "The player is simple to use, delivers DVD quality video and there's no monthly subscription commitment. We are delighted to team with 2Wire to give consumers this great entertainment product."

The player will work with any broadband connection, either wirelessly via built-in Wi-Fi or wired via Ethernet cable, according to 2Wire. The box will offer full fast-forward, rewind and pause capabilities of videos offered in standard-definition DVD quality. Movies can be played right away or saved to watch later, Blockbuster said.

The player is also said to supports HD video content and can be connected to HDTVs via HDMI and component video jacks.

Blockbuster had previously been selling video downloads through Movielink, a service it acquired for $7.7 million last year. That service targeted primarily PC and portable media player users.

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