Troubled video renter Blockbuster is going to start renting movies and television shows through a new gadget that may give consumers another reason to bypass the struggling video chain's 7,500 stores. The big idea is to use a small box that connects to television sets and stores video after it's downloaded over high-speed Internet connections.
The player, made by 2Wire, is built on the same concept as storage devices made by Apple and Vudu and provides a bridge between the Internet and TVs. Netflix has been trying to make the same leap with a video-streaming service that can be watched on TV sets through a variety of devices, including a $100 box introduced by Roku.
However, this is the first time Blockbuster has launched into "on-demand" video and means that it will be going against the cable companies. Chairman James Keyes said Blockbuster has closed hundreds of stores in recent years, but the expansion online shouldn't be interpreted as a condemnation of its brick-and-mortar locations.
He said that stores will remain relevant to consumers for quite some time.