Tesco buys Blinkbox movie streaming service in step to become UK's Netflix

UK grocery shopping giant Tesco has acquired a majority stakeholding in movie streaming service Blinkbox, putting it directly up against similar ventures, such as Lovefilm and, therefore, Amazon, to be the UK's answer to Netflix.

The deal sees Tesco buy 80 per cent of the business from Eden Ventures and Nordic Venture Partners.

Blinkbox is a similar offering to the movie streaming service found on the Amazon-owned Lovefilm, although it is entirely pay-per-view in preference to its rival's subscription model. It also currently offers far more titles to stream than Lovefilm - featuring over 9,000 pieces of video content (movies and TV shows - available to rent or buy, digitally streamed live or downloaded), but, unlike its peer, has yet to make the leap to connected TVs. A tie-in with Samsung Smart TVs has been on the cards since last year, but nothing has come of it to date.

Currently, Blinkbox content can only be viewed through a browser, although the experience has been enhanced for PS3 so that owners can view content on their TVs.

Speaking about the acquisition, Richard Brasher, Tesco UK's CEO said: "Whether customers want to own the DVD, download a digital movie, stream a rental or all three, Tesco is committed to giving customers choice. We want to allow them to decide how they access entertainment content and on which devices, whether it’s on PC, TV or tablet. The acquisition of Blinkbox, together with a range of other services currently in development, means we can link physical purchase of a product to the building of digital collections in a new and seamless way. Working with the Blinkbox team and our content partners, we will bring these compelling propositions to life for our customers."

Certainly, with Tesco behind it, we fully expect Blinkbox to start operating in more sectors than just the web. For example, prior to this announcement, the streaming service was one of the new tech and content partners chosen by YouView, alongside new rival Lovefilm.

Incidentally, the retailer also offers DVD and Blu-ray sell-through and rental, with the latter service powered by none other than... Lovefilm.