Yesterday Blockbuster acquired Movielink, immediately putting them in the business of movie downloads. (The price was not listed in any articles I found on it.)

Movielink was launched in 2001 by five major studios: MGM, Paramount, Universal, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. By acquiring Movielink, Blockbuster now has the rights to offer the movie titles that fall under those studios, which can be decent chunk.
Just on general principle I’m not a fan of Blockbuster. I used to work there and after you’ve served your 10,000th hayseed, you start to despise the whole organization.

But this is a good move for them. To stay competitive with Netflix they launched their own mail delivery service, and now it is defensively taking steps to combat their latest online service, as well as those from Apple, Amazon, and Walmart.

The main complaints about Movielink have been the download times, so hopefully we’ll see some developments in getting the movies out much faster to their audience. In the world of YouTube, no one wants to sit around and wait for Air Bud Spikes Back to download. It’s all about instant gratification, baby. Even BitTorrent, the widely used technology for piracy, plans to launch a streaming movie service similar to YouTube with full-length features.

Also, BB/Movielink will need more selection. Netflix, who has more subscribers, has survived after Blockbuster joined the mail-out market partially because of their broader list and older movies. You won’t find the more obscure titles at Blockbuster stores, nor with their mail service. They’ll need to expand, and the 3,300 titles Movielink currently has isn’t going to cut it.

And, of course, price is the major concern with these services. In the past Movielink only offered the download at near DVD prices, which doesn’t make sense for the consumer. Apple and Walmart are undercutting them as they roll out their own download sites. Maybe now with BB on board, things will be different.

The future of movie rentals is in downloads. My theory is in ten years everyone will have movies on demand, much like HBO’s service now, only with massive movie catalogs they can search and select from. Search for “Casablanca,” hit enter, and it rents the movie to you on your TV. Just a giant database of movies to choose from for your TV, computer, phone, etc. That’s where things are headed.

As Blockbuster’s stores become obsolete, this new service will keep them from becoming a thing of the past.