Blockbuster in video download pact

Movie rental chain announces partnership to offer instant access to its video library through various home and portable devices.

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In an effort to keep pace with rival Netflix, Blockbuster has announced a partnership to offer instant access to its video library through various home and portable devices.

The movie rental company has partnered with Sonic Solutions to offer more than 10,000 movies for rent and sale to a variety of PCs, cell phones, portable media players, Internet-connected televisions, and Blu-ray disc players. The collection of offerings will be a combination of titles from Blockbuster and CinemaNow, a movie downloading service that Sonic recently purchased.

"Blockbuster is a ubiquitous entertainment presence in the physical world. Through this alliance with Sonic, we plan to become a ubiquitous presence in the digital world as well," Jim Keyes, Blockbuster's CEO, said in a statement. "Our goal is to offer consumers the most digital content, the most accessibility, via the most devices, both in and out of home."

While Blockbuster already has an existing library of online titles, thanks to its earlier acquisition of MovieLink, the CinemaNow partnership could get Blockbuster content onto more third-party boxes, such as all of the LG Blu-ray players and home theater systems announced at last week's CES

The partnership is Blockbuster's latest attempt to match Netflix, which has expanded past its DVD-by-mail service to offer movie streaming on Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console, Blu-ray players, and TiVo digital video recorders. In November, Blockbuster introduced the MediaPoint player, a set-top box that--like Netflix's Roku--offers on-demand content to a consumer's TV.

Blockbuster plans initially to sell videos or rent them on a pay-per-view basis, but the movie rental chain said it is considering offering a subscription plan for unlimited access to Blockbuster's digital library.

Netflix already provides a free Web-streaming service to customers who are signed up for a monthly subscription that costs at least $8.99.