With all this talk of the format war it seems that the download war may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, Blockbuster "has paid an undisclosed amount to acquire Movielink, giving the nation's biggest DVD rental company instant rights to a vast library of downloadable feature films and TV shows."

Movielink has been around for 5 years and was formed by "NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and MGM. It lets users rent movies for $1.99-$4.99 or purchase them for about $17."

In addition to this, "Movielink has struck deals with the Walt Disney Co., Miramax, Lionsgate and a few dozen others, allowing it to offer users one of the largest selections of downloadable titles."

Acquiring Movielink puts Blockbuster in direct competition "with iTunes, a Wal-Mart product, CinemaNow and -- perhaps most importantly -- it closes a gap with primary rival Netflix."

Netflix got to the the downloadable realm first when it brought out "its downloadable service free to subscribers, and Blockbuster countered with Total Access, which allows its by-mail users to exchange DVDs in stores."

At present the Netflix service is available for viewing movies on your PC. In addition to this "Apple's iTunes, though an Apple TV set-top box allows for television viewing, as does networking a computer with a TV in the case of Movielink."

Recently, a new way "for viewing digital rentals on TV screens has been gaining traction lately, courtesy of a partnership between Amazon.com's Unbox digital movie rental service and TiVo."

According to Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes... "Movielink is basically for watching movies on computers and portable devices but that the ultimate goal includes an easy solution for viewing on TV screens as well."

At present, Blockbuster doesn't have any plans to change the way Movielink operates although it will offer it "through Blockbuster.com."

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs