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Best Buy to launch branded movie download service

Roxio CinemaNow will provide the back-end infrastructure, but Best Buy plans to make the service available on its own white label brand and is in talks with other CE makers.

Best Buy on Tuesday is expected to announce its own movie download service for consumer electronics sold in its stores.

Best Buy movie downloads
The retailer will soon roll out a movie download service in partnership with Roxio CinemaNow. Best Buy

Though it doesn't have a name yet--and probably won't until next week at the earliest--Best Buy says the service will be up and running sometime in the fourth quarter, which could mean anytime between now and the end of the year. The retailer is licensing the software and infrastructure from Sonic Solutions' Roxio CinemaNow service, which has more than 20,000 film titles, mostly new releases, available via its on-demand service.

The software will be available on Best Buy's Insignia brand of TVs and Blu-ray players, but the retailer is talking to other, bigger name consumer electronics makers about also including the service on its devices.

"We want to make sure it's difficult to walk out of a Best Buy store without a device that has our movie technology embedded on it," said Ryan Pirozzi, director of digital video for Best Buy.

CinemaNow content is already available on a variety of devices, and is capable of playback on Mac, PC, and Android platforms, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell laptops as well as LG Blu-ray players. But Best Buy wants more so that it can sell the idea that when you rent or buy a movie through this service, you'd be able to transfer the content to any other device you buy in the store.

It's part of Best Buy's strategy to not just sell hardware to customers, which have increasingly small profit margins, but services that get them online and connected to a variety of entertainment sources after they've taken the device home.

It's the same strategy that led the retailer to purchase the music service Napster, as well as partner with Blockbuster and Netflix. When asked if the yet-to-be-named movie download service would negatively affect its current tie-ups with Blockbuster or Netflix, Pirozzi said it's all about giving consumers a choice.

"We own the Napster brand, but we still carry iTunes and eMusic," he said. "The way we do that for music, we'll do the same with video."

There's also an advantage of having devices with CinemaNow in combination with Blockbuster OnDemand or Netflix Watch Instantly--CinemaNow is almost all new releases, while the other two have some older catalog selections. And they're different: movies rented with CinemaNow don't require a subscription; titles can be purchased or rented a la carte.

Best Buy also plans to eventually expand the service to include TV shows.