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Nook Video opens new chapter for B&N e-reader

Ahead of an expected new tablet unveiling, Barnes & Noble announces Nook Video with content from the likes of HBO, Sony, Starz, and Disney.

B&N has launched a homegrown video service.
Barnes & Noble

Last year when it launched its Nook Tablet, Barnes & Noble strongly hinted that it was looking to add a video service to the device that would allow users to buy and rent movies and television shows.

Well, it took a little longer than expected, but today the company has announced that it's launching Nook Video this fall in the U.S. and the U.K. this "holiday season" with content from major studios, including HBO, Sony, Starz, and Warner Bros, and Disney.

That Barnes & Noble would build its video offering in house is a bit of a surprise. A lot of folks thought it would enlist a third-party service such as Vudu. But it's clearly invested a lot of time and money in creating Nook Video from scratch as it gets set to unveil new hardware.

It's widely expected Barnes & Noble will shortly release a next-generation tablet to compete with Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7.

Amazon, of course, has made a huge push into digital video with its Amazon Instant Video service and already has an extensive catalog. Also, Amazon Prime members ($79 a year) can stream a wide selection of videos for free.

As with Amazon Instant Video, you'll be able to stream or download videos you've purchased. It's unclear if Barnes & Noble has additional studios on board (we asked about Paramount and Universal, but are still waiting for a response) and B&N hasn't provided a ton of details on the service, so the announcement is a bit of a teaser.

"Through deals with these and other major studios, the Nook Video catalog will offer something for everyone in the family to enjoy, including Disney-Pixar's Brave and Toy Story 3, Marvel's The Avengers, 21 Jump Street, Awkward, The Artist, Breaking Bad, Dora the Explorer, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Spartacus, Magic City, The Walking Dead, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter movies, The Dark Knight, The Hangover and many more."

One thing we do know is that Barnes & Noble is planning to launch free Nook Video apps that will allow you to view Nook Video content you've purchased on other, non-Nook devices, including TVs and smartphones (purchases are stored in the Nook Cloud). Barnes & Noble didn't talk about specific devices, but it's pretty safe to assume iOS and Android apps will be first out of the gate.

Barnes & Noble says Nook Video "will also integrate a customer's compatible physical DVD and Blu-ray Disc purchases and digital video collection across their devices through UltraViolet." In other words, you'll be able to link your Nook Video and UltraViolet accounts and access your UltraViolet movies from any Nook Video app. Barnes & Noble already sells physical discs in its brick-and-mortar stores. It also offers the Netflix app in the Nook app store, but does not offer HBO Go yet.

Will owners of current Nook Tablets get access to Nook Video? There's no mention of that in the press release, but Barnes & Noble could very well add it through an upcoming software upgrade. We'll let you know when we have more details.