Blockbuster buys Movielink; battle with Netflix continues

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Video-rental retailer Blockbuster Inc. has acquired Movielink, a leading movie download service, in a move that will help it compete with Netflix.

The agreement, whose terms were not disclosed, gives Blockbuster access to one of the largest libraries of downloadable movies and an array of television content.

"Our acquisition of Movielink is the next logical step in our development as a company," said Karen Raskopf, senior vice president of corporate communications. "We're committed to keeping pace with the expanding needs of customers and this acquisition lets us get into the download business in a cost-effective way."

This move comes after Netflix debuted its download-a-movie rental plan earlier this year, and after Blockbuster's introduction of Total Access, a plan that competes with Netflix's movie-rental-by-mail program.

According to Raskopf, Blockbuster plans to continue to operate the Movielink service and to eventually make elements of the service available through Blockbuster.com.

Movielink, based in Santa Monica, CA, is a joint venture of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios and was founded in 2002. It offers consumers downloadable content via their PCs, portable devices, television-connected home networks and approved set-top boxes.

The acquisition of Movielink, gives Blockbuster license agreements with the five founding studios, as well as more than 30 other studios, television-content distributors, and foreign and independent content providers.

Blockbuster will now have access to more than 3,000 downloadable titles, versus 2,000 on Netflix.

Netflix offers more content with more than 80,000 titles available on DVD, versus 70,000 titles on the Blockbuster site.

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