Tesco Fast Forwards Into Movie Streaming With Majority Stake In Blinkbox

Didn’t see this one coming at all. UK movie streaming service Blinkbox has been an obvious acquisition target, particularly following the sale of competitor Lovefilm to Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), but Tesco? Then again, it makes perfect sense for the UK biggest retailer, particularly given its search for an Amazon-meets-Walmart online solution.
Tesco didn’t buy the company outright. Instead, it acquired an 80 percent stake in blinkbox from Eden Ventures and Nordic Venture Partners for an undisclosed sum. In the announcement, CEO Michael Comish (pictured), a co-founder, described the relationship with Tesco as a partnership that will help the company, already the UK’s largest streaming service, expand.
Blinkbox, which launched in 2008, boasts two million visitors a month and a catalog of more than 9,000 films plus TV shows available. Although the service is available on the web, it is the coming connected-TV explosion that could really rocket over-the-top entertainment distributors like Blinkbox, and Lovefilm before it…
The service is available on PS3 and plans to be on Samsung Smart TV (AKA Sony (NYSE: SNE) [email protected]) and Sony Internet TV. Perhaps most excitingly, it will also be present on YouView, the UK connected-TV standard being worked on as a JV by UK public broadcasters and ISPs, which will be delivered initially on dedicated boxes and, eventually, integrated on to TVs.
Though Blinkbox is hardly a household name, as we reported yesterday, it may yet have a kind of advantage over better-known rival Lovefilm. Lovefilm’s subscription service is unable to get hold of A-list recent blockbuster titles because Sky Movies has a lock on the subscription rights window. Rights for PPV, which Blinkbox sells solely, are easier to come by. This will go hand in hand with payment mechanisms that will be made available on IPTV services like YouView.
This is a good-news story for Blinkbox, which started in 2008 with an odd proposition – letting users mash up movie clips to send accompanying emails to friends.