Film and TV

Kind of Blu-Ray: Blockbuster Teams Up with Samsung for Yet More OnDemand Delivery

Late last year, Blockbuster introduced its first on-demand delivery system: the 2Wire MediaPoint Digital Media Player, about which critics weren't wild but oh well better than nothing and well at least the company's trying. Then came the TiVo deal in March, which did nothing to stop the company's stock from slipping in May following significant first-quarter revenue dips. But CEO Jim Keyes hinted in an interview in December that the Elm Street-based company was looking to meet the on-demand demand by getting in bed with Blu-ray, for starters. Turns out, the future is now: Blockbuster's announcing today a deal with Samsung that will allow for pay-per-view streaming directly through the manufacturers' online-enabled LCD and plasma TVs -- eight series' worth, from the looks of this list -- and its Blu-ray players and home-theater systems.

Which puts Blockbuster on the same delivery platform at Netflix, which also uses Samsung's equipment to sneak into your side room. But John Falcone at CNET is not impressed, mostly because he sees this new deal as nothing but an expansion of the original 2Wire delivery system that so far smells of fail:

Essentially, the Blockbuster OnDemand service will be an integrated version of the service found on the 2Wire MediaPoint Player. The problem: we ranked that video-on-demand set-top box dead last when compared to competitors such as Apple TV (iTunes, YouTube), Vudu, and Roku (Netflix and Amazon). So, while it's always cool to get a free feature added to your TV or Blu-ray player, we're a bit skeptical that Blockbuster OnDemand will be a big step-up for these Samsung products. Thankfully, the TVs and Blu-ray players on the list that we've already reviewed already have a lot more to offer.
Also skeptical: Kurt Scherf, an analyst with Parks Associates in Dallas, who tells the Los Angeles Times, "These products become like the kids' Christmas toys. They're fun for a couple of weeks, but because of the ability to get video-on-demand movies from so many other sources -- like the cable service, like Netflix -- they fade into the background."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky