Tesco to retail connected TVs, hybrid STBs

UK supermarket group Tesco is to start selling smart TVs and hybrid set-top boxes under its own-brand Technika label in mid-July, according to Michael Comish, CEO of digital movie service blinkbox, 80 per cent-owned by the retailer.

Addressing delegates at the Future of Broadcasting Summit in London on ‘Developing New Funding Models for the Digital Age’ Comish suggested that in the digital broadband age, there was a move to digital from physical. “It’s about access, not ownership nowadays,” he explained, suggesting that 2012 would be a tipping point in the shift to digital. He warned that such developments had to contend with resistance from the studios. “They are past-masters as slowing down technology,” he observed.

In terms of market competition, he said that Tesco intended to become the largest player in the retail window. “We’re not competing against Sky,” he added. He felt that there were a number of players in the retail, subscription and rental sector who were all likely to thrive with different business models.

In particular, he suggested that Sky, with its planned NOW TV OTT service was targeting those homes it wasn’t currently in, whereas Tesco’s target was those homes it was currently in and who could benefit from the cloud-based digital ownership scheme it had launched with blinkbox, whereby customers who purchase a DVD or Blu-ray will also own the movie online. The new service is exclusive to customers enrolled in the store’s Clubcard loyalty scheme.

Rob Salter, Category Director of Entertainment for Tesco suggested early May that the role of the retailer moving forwards would “undoubtedly be more about connected services and less about straight retailing of packaged goods”.

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