The two companies are collaborating with a host of consumer electronic (CE) manufacturers, including Sonic's existing CinemaNow providers, to expand the ecosystem of interoperable devices offering the Blockbuster service. These devices include PCs, portable media players, Blu-ray Disc players, personal video recorders (PVRs), set-top boxes, mobile phones and Web-connected television sets.
Sonic's device ecosystem, powered by its new CinemaNow SDK (software development kit), will help streamline the introduction of Blockbuster's digital entertainment service into a variety of consumer electronic devices, both Mac- and Windows-enabled, via adaptive streaming and progressive download. The devices will be sold through Blockbuster retail stores, blockbuster.com and other leading retailers.
The partnership comes just two months after Sonic Solutions acquired CinemaNow for $3 million.
The alliance with CinemaNow accelerates Blockbuster's push to catch up with rival Netflix, which has diversified beyond its DVD-by-mail service by piping movies and TV shows over high-speed Internet connections. Blockbuster took its first step toward matching Netflix in late November when it introduced a gadget, made by 2Wire Inc., that connects to television sets and temporarily saves video after it's downloaded over high-speed Internet connections. Netflix already had been marketing a similar box made by Roku Inc.
Netflix has been pursuing a similar strategy the past year. The company's Internet streaming service, called "Watch Instantly," already is compatible with Blu-ray players, Microsoft's video game console, the xBox 360, and will soon have built-in access to some flat-screen TVs.
Blockbuster intends to rent digital video on a pay-per-view basis or sell the movies to own.
Netflix provides its streaming service at no additional charge to any customer who pays at least $8.99 per month for the one of the company's DVD-by-mail plans.