Best Buy To Offer On-Demand Media Online


The DVD death march continues.

Best Buy today announced plans to offer digital entertainment online, available to consumers to rent or purchase in partnership with Sonic Solutions.

The ambitious retailer will offer on-demand movies and entertainment, powered by Sonic’s Roxio CinemaNow service, through various consumer electronic devices — citing set-top boxes, portable media players, Blu-ray Disc players, mobile phones and PCs — produced from a variety of manufacturers.

Best Buy is joining a cadre offering content on-demand online, hitching their wagon to the success of Netflix, Blockbuster, Hulu, Amazon and Apple.[more]

Observers have been quick to voice their skepticism; Business Insider deemed the move “a crazy attempt.” Not entirely. Certainly, by pitting themselves against Apple, Netflix and other giants, Best Buy has entered a David-and-Goliath-style battle.

Yet, because of the heft and expanse of their product catalog, Best Buy can afford to lower the prices on entertainment, undermining the value placed on media by already establish heavyweights. (As it stands now, Roxio offers featured new releases upwards of $19.95, Apple $14.95. Best buy offers DVD and Blu-Ray for $15.99 and $24.99, respectively.)   

The move buys Best Buy time while the industry determines its next distribution platform, be it DVD, Blu-Ray, something new, or digital offerings.   

Best Buy has yet to hash out the specifics for the deal, and promises a marketing program to educate consumers. Especially interesting is how the service will be interfaced. Will customers access the service through the Best Buy web site, Sonic’s Roxio CinemaNow service, or will the two launch a sub-brand and site? Given the ubiquity of Best Buy’s name, one would expect the retailer to be a part of the public face of the service.

Best Buy could come up with an innovative solution, or an absolute dud. Success hinges on the twin pillars of technology and branding.