Barnes & Noble inks video deals in time for Nook HD, HD+ release

20th Century Fox and NBCUniversal programs will be available as the new tablets launch this week.

Barnes & Noble is releasing its newest Nook tablet. James Martin/CNET
Barnes & Noble is expanding its Nook Video content to include NBCUniversal and 20th Century Fox programs as it also begins shipping its HD and HD+ tablets this week.

B&N said customers who preordered the tablets will start receiving them throughout the week. The devices will also hit Barnes & Noble's stores and retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy.

Chief Executive William Lynch said that B&N had a record number of preorders.

The media partnerships will appear at the same time as the new Nooks and will bring thousands of TV shows and standard and HD movies to Nook Video, including films like "Battleship" and "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax."

Consumers also will be able to link their UltraViolet accounts to the Nook Cloud this fall in the U.S., allowing them to view their purchases on the Nook HD tablets and on the free Nook Video apps coming soon.

The devices hit the market around the same time as new Nexus tablets from Google and the iPad Mini from Apple. The companies are competing for consumers' wallets in the holiday-shopping season, with each trying to set itself apart from rivals. Barnes & Noble pushes its Nook devices as ideal products for reading.

"There's no shortage of new tablets in the market, but with Nook HD and Nook HD+, every book read, every movie watched, every game played is rendered in a digital quality never before seen and unmatched by those other tablets," Lynch said in a press release.

While the Nook HD has been applauded for its design and features, it also has been criticized for its shortage of apps, movies, TV shows, and games, as well as its lack of a native music service.

Barnes & Noble has been struggling as more consumers opt to buy books digitally instead of through brick-and-mortar stores. It has its own digital reading operations, but it also faces tough competition from Amazon, Apple, and others.

The bookstore operator has been exploring the options for its tablet and e-reader business, including possibly spinning off the operations. It also formed a partnership with Microsoft earlier this year, creating a subsidiary called Nook Media LLC to focus on digital reading.

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