Sears and Kmart are hoping to turn our newfound love for digital movies into a profit with the launch of Alphaline Entertainment. The move comes as in-store sales of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs continue to feel the pressure of streaming services like Netflix and rentals from iTunes, Microsoft Zune and on-demand services from cable operators.
Sears first announced that it would begin offering online movie rentals back in June with the hope of arriving in homes by Christmas, and now the service is live, just a few days later than expected.Alphaline entertainment allows users to buy and rent movies as well as purchase TV shows by the episode for $1.99 or as a season, with no price break.
Buying a movie runs about the same price as buying a DVD from your local store, about $20. When we spoke to Sears in June a company representative said that it hopes to bring price promotion to the digital download market with sales on movies. Movie rental prices are $2.99 to $3.99, which is on par with the price from most other services.
The files will download to your computer for playback and you can begin viewing in about 30 seconds, according to the Alphaline website. Currently the service does not support Mac computers and requires Internet Explorer to download movies.
You can also watch the movies on your TV by connecting an Xbox 360 to the RoxioNow software or by using an app on RoxioNow-enabled Blu-Ray players and HDTVs. The movies can also be watched on portable phones that support DIVX, but notably the iPhone and iPad are missing.
Overall the move is a bit odd since most consumers associate Sears with oil changes, appliances and sweepers, not digital downloads. Unless Sears can deliver on price it's unlikely that consumers will choose to purchase a movie or TV show through Alphaline Entertainment over the other options which offer simpler connections to their HDTVS and portable devices.
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