October 4, 2012, 4:17 PM

Toys ‘R’ Us opens a digital entertainment store

Consumers can stream kids’ movies and TV shows to web-enabled devices.

Lead Photo

New apps will make Toys 'R' Us Movies content available on its new Tabeo tablet.

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. has opened a new digital entertainment service called Toys ‘R’ Us Movies, the retailer announced today. The online store includes 4,000 titles of children’s and family movies and TV shows available for purchase or rental, the retailer says. Consumers stream the content to web-connected devices, and later this fall Toys ‘R’ Us says it will roll out apps to make the service accessible on most web-enabled devices, including Blu-ray players, smartphones and the retailer’s own 7-inch tablet, Tabeo, which will hit stores Oct. 21, Toys ‘R’ Us says.

Toys ‘R’ Us Movies is designed to be kid-friendly with easy navigation and a wish list so kids can select desired titles for parents to approve and buy later, the retailer says. Parents can also set controls, for example blocking any content rated PG-13 or higher. Consumers must be at least 18 years old to create a Movies account, and the site asks for the date of birth of the consumer setting up an account.

The digital store will feature new movies the same day they are released in retail stores, with some select titles available earlier exclusively via Toys ‘R’ Us Movies, such as Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the company says. Rentals start at $2.99 for 24 hours and purchases for licensed downloads or digital streaming at $5.99. Television shows, available the day after they air, begin at $0.99 with most costing $1.99, the retailer says. Toys ‘R’ Us will also begin selling Movies gift cards in stores this fall.

Shoppers can browse shows and movies by age, from toddler to young adult; they can also search by featured character, like Batman, or genre, such as animated, says Toys ‘R’ Us, No. 29 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The retailer will also offer curated collections of titles, for example “Classic Disney” and “Spooky Stories,” as well as holiday collections according to the season. The many ways to search and browse titles are designed to help parents and caregivers assist young children in making selections, the retailer says.

“Our relationships with top entertainment studios, such as Disney, allow us to provide the newest and most popular movies and TV shows that are in-demand with our core customers—kids and families,” says a Toys ‘R’ Us spokeswoman. “Down the road, we also have great opportunities for cross-promotion between Toys ‘R’ Us Movies and our robust e-commerce site, network of stores and print and online marketing vehicles.”

In addition to expanding access to the movies across other devices through including iOS, Android and Tabeo apps, in the coming months, Toys ‘R’ Us will add high-definition content, it says.

Toys ‘R’ Us Movies is built and managed by digital entertainment technology provider Rovi Corp. The service has been in the works for the past year, Toys ‘R’ Us says.

Toys ‘R’ Us brought in $1 billion in e-commerce sales last year and grew its online business by double digits in 2010 and 2011, the company says. “However, the overwhelming majority of sales still occur in physical stores—customers demand a physical presence,” the spokeswoman says. The retail chain reported $13.9 billion in sales during its 2011 year, which ended Jan. 28, 2012.

Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us, elaborated on the company’s plans for what the company terms omnichannel growth last month at the Shop.org conference in Denver. The initiatives include adding a service to allow shoppers to buy products online and have them shipped to stores for pickup, which is less expensive than shipping to home addresses and therefore keeps prices down for customers, Storch said.

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