Monday, November 24, 2008

Blockbuster jumps into the set-top box business

According to CNET's Crave website, Blockbuster Video has struck a deal to resell 2Wire's new MediaPoint set-top box, to compete with the Roku Netflix Player and other Netflix-enabled devices, as well as Apple TV, Vudu, etc. The MediaPoint player will sell for $99, but comes with 25 free movies. Additional movies will be priced starting at $1.99, and no monthly subscription is required.

The MediaPoint comes with all the standard inputs and outputs: 802.11g or wired Ethernet interfaces, composite, component and HDMI video interfaces, and both analog stereo and Toslink digital optical audio interfaces. The MediaPoint user interface, as seen on the Crave website, borrows a good deal of its look from TiVo.

On paper at least, Blockbuster's offering could be very competitive with the Roku Netflix player, with a lower net cost and no subscription required. It's not known if Blockbuster is trying to get its service integrated with many different companies' video players, as Netflix has succeeded in doing. What IS clear, however is that Blockbuster is once again playing catch-up to Netflix. Keeping in mind what happened to Blockbuster's Total Access program, which made big progress against Netflix only to lose its momentum when the company chose to pare its financial losses, I wonder whether the company has the stomach to stick with its online service.
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