Blockbuster to offer movies on some Motorola cell phones

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blockbuster to offer movies on Motorola phones

NEW YORK — Blockbuster Inc. plans to offer movies that can be watched on Motorola Inc. cell phones. It marks the struggling rental company’s first step into mobile video and is its latest effort at chasing down the customers who have abandoned its traditional video stores.

Blockbuster offered few details Tuesday on the plan, which expands on the company’s OnDemand movie downloading service offered through set-top boxes for TVs.

Kevin Lewis, Blockbuster’s senior vice president for digital entertainment, said the company is still working on specifics, including when the service will be available and how much it will cost.

Consumers will be able to pay for separate titles. Television series may be available along with new releases, Lewis said.

Customers will likely be offered the ability to download the videos to their phones — so movies won’t necessarily be cut off without cell phone service.

Blockbuster has been scrambling to find new revenue sources as traffic at movie rental stores wanes and customers move to online video and order-by-mail services like Netflix.

The company’s alliance with Samsung Electronics America Inc., announced last month, will allow customers to rent movies with their remote control on Samsung’s latest high-definition TVs. Earlier this year, Blockbuster introduced a similar on-demand service offered through TiVo Inc.’s digital video recorders.

On another flank, Blockbuster is promising 10,000 DVD rental kiosks to compete with Coinstar Inc. subsidiary Redbox, which is luring frugal customers with its $1-per-night DVD rentals.

“We have to be in all the places that people care about seeing movies,” Lewis said.

Blockbuster joins a growing field of video services on cell phones.

Mobile customers can get clips on the mobile version of Google Inc.’s YouTube and movie rentals from Apple Inc.’s iTunes store on the iPhone. Verizon Wireless also offers V Cast, which shows sports, news and comedy clips on phones, starting at $15 per month.

(This version CORRECTS CHANGES title in 3rd graf, RECASTS 4th graf to correct to ‘Customers will be able …’.)

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