Movielink Tapped to Star in Blockbuster Remake of Netflix Business Plan
From top to bottom, Blockbuster is deliberately and willfully infringing on our patented methods. Netflix invented a 100 percent better mousetrap that Blockbuster copied.
– Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey, April 5, 2006
Apparently, Blockbuster isn’t as hopelessly tethered to its VHS rental-business past as you might think. Yesterday, the video-rental retailer acquired studio-owned movie download service Movielink and with it a potentially significant foothold in the video-on-demand market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but early this year when rumors of an acquisition first began to circulate, analysts had estimated that Blockbuster might pay as much as $50 million.
Founded in 2002, Movielink is backed by Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios. But while its impressive catalog makes it one of the Web’s largest digital-movie libraries, the service hasn’t caught on because of its strict digital-rights management software and prices (roughly the same as a typical DVD). Still, it’s likely a good acquisition for Blockbuster, whose market value has declined to just over $800 million from $8.4 billion, largely because of its failure to buy Netflix when it had the chance.
Blockbuster chair and CEO Jim Keyes called the deal the next “logical” step in the company’s transformation. Presumably, that means the next phase in Blockbuster’s re-creation of the Netflix business model, which the video-rental chain has been diligently following for the past few years. Netflix, of course, is spending some $40 million this year on its own VOD service, which is already up and running.