Going Beyond E-Books, Barnes & Noble Nook Launches Digital Video Store
Barnes & Noble, looking to capitalize on its fast-growing digital business, is launching a Nook-branded video store that, at first glance, looks a lot like Amazon’s and Google’s online video services.
This morning, the bookseller offered a skeleton picture of the service, with more details to come later this fall. For a little background, Barnes & Noble said in April it was spinning off its Nook unit into a new Microsoft-backed venture, though Nook is currently still a Barnes & Noble subsidiary.
Here’s what you need to know about the company’s latest digital initiative:
- It will be called Nook Video, and it will be a part of the online Nook Store. Barnes & Noble says the video service will run on Nook devices, tablets, smartphones and “smart” TVs, though it has declined to say which specific operating systems it will be available on.
- The video streaming service is not a subscription service. It will offer HD and SD movies and TV shows. As with Google Play and Amazon’s Instant Video service, assets will be available both as rentals and as downloads (most 24-hour movie rentals I’ve seen on Google and Amazon range from $2.99 to $3.99). The content will be stored in the user’s Nook Cloud, which the company introduced a couple months ago.
- How many movies and TV shows can I access, you ask? Barnes & Noble didn’t give numbers, but says it will be offering classics, popular movies and TV shows from studios like Disney, HBO, Sony, Starz and Warner Bros. Entertainment. These include Disney-Pixar’s “Brave,” “Toy Story 3,” “The Hangover,” the “Harry Potter” movies, “The Dark Knight,” “The Daily Show,” “Dora the Explorer,” “The Walking Dead,” “True Blood” and more. Also: “Breaking Bad.” Because if you can’t get your Hogwarts and Hangover with a twist of Walter White, I don’t know if this could even be considered a streaming media service. Now, what it really needs to get started is Shades of Gray: The Movie ….
- Nook Video will also create and store digital copies of the DVDs that you normally play on UltraViolet and Blu-ray players. So if you purchase a Blu-ray or UV DVD and sync your console with your Nook Video account, it will create a digital copy in your Nook Cloud. You could then, theoretically, watch it on another gadget, via the Nook app.
- We don’t know when exactly this is launching, except for “this fall” in the U.S. It will hit the U.K. this holiday season, though, again, it’s unclear whether the full features of the service will be available abroad. On Google Play, for example, rentals are available in the U.K., Australia, France, Spain and Japan, among other places, but the ability to purchase movies is only available in the U.S.
Whether Nook finds a niche as a legitimate video service for consumers, amid stiff competition, remains to be seen. But it’s worth noting that Nook Video, tied to the Nook Cloud service, sounds like the first practical way for Nook hardware owners to grab and store video on the device. It’s not that Nooks don’t have storage capabilities; the problem was, prior to this, users had to “sideload” media onto the Nook from their PCs or tablets, as AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka explains well here.