Best option: Best Buy acquires CinemaNow name for its digital video offering
The retail giant has acquired rights to the CinemaNow name from software company Sonic Solutions, which bought CinemaNow in 2008 and will continue to run its backend technology. Best Buy will now handle all consumer marketing for the brand.
"We spent nine months testing and focus-grouping and had an agency come up with names and couldn't find any we wanted," said Ryan Pirozzi, Best Buy's director of digital media. "It ended up being the perfect marriage because Sonic was not looking to be customer-facing."
Best Buy announced last year that it would partner with CinemaNow to create a new movie downloading and streaming service integrating into electronics devices it sells. At the time it intended to create a new brand. Pirozzi said they considered simply calling it "Best Buy video-on-demand" or "Napster Video," connecting it to the digital music service that the retailer acquired in 2008.
The marketing power of Best Buy, one of the nation's largest retailers, could provide a boost to CinemaNow, which was founded at the dawn of the digital media age in 1999 but has long struggled to make a mark in the still-small market for movie downloads. Sonic acquired CinemaNow from its previous consortium of owners, which included movie and TV studio Lions Gate Entertainment, satellite TV company Echostar, and several venture capital funds, for $3 million.
Best Buy will begin promoting CinemaNow in its stores, including a new "endcap" display in aisles starting next month. In addition to pushing the CinemaNow website, it is forging partnerships to integrate the movie downloading service into electronics devices, starting with Blu-ray players from LG. CinemaNow will ship with Best Buy's own Insignia-branded Internet-connected devices beginning this year.
The retailers faces a number of competitors in digital movie distribution such as Netflix, Amazon.com and Vudu, which was recently acquired by Wal-mart and will undoubtedly be pushed by the mega-retailer in its own stores and on electronics devices that it sells.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: A Best Buy store in Los Angeles. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times.