HMV launches on-demand film service to rival LoveFilm and iTunes

Retailer enters digital movie market amid falling high-street retail sales

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High-street retailer HMV is launching a video on-demand film service that will feature some of the biggest Hollywood movies to rent. 

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A joint venture with FilmFlex, owned by Sony Pictures Television and The Walt Disney Company, hmv-ondemand.com will allow users to stream and download films from over 30 distributors as soon as they are released on DVD.  Launch titles include Bad Teacher, Harry Potter and Cars 2. 

HMV’s foray into the digital downloads market follows a slump in sales for the retailer over the past year, resulting in the closure of more than 30 of its stores across Britain.  hmv-ondemand.com will compete in a growing on-demand film market against the likes of Amazon’s Lovefilm, Apple’s iTunes, YouTube and Tesco’s Blinkbox.  US on-demand giant Netflix is also planning a UK launch in 2012. 

The initial service, which “soft-launches” today, will allow around two million loyalty-card customers to rent movies via their PCs.  It is expected the service will expand to a variety of other digital devices and mobile in the new year – as well as download to own options added.

Mark Hodgkinson, HMV’s marketing and e-commerce director, said: “As an entertainment brand built on specialist choice our remit has always been to enable people to discover and enjoy content however and whenever they want.” 

Adding: “With a growing number of consumers now incorporating video-on-demand into their viewing and purchasing habits, the time is right to include a digital service in our own offer.”

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Jeff Henry, chief executive at FilmFlex, said: “Our deal with HMV illustrates perfectly the benefit of combining their well-known brand and high traffic volumes with our own expertise in technology and content.”