June 22, 2010, 12:32 PM

Sears to offer video streaming

Sears.com and Kmart.com will begin selling on-demand access to movies and TV shows.

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Sears Holdings Corp. announced today it will begin selling on-demand access to movies and TV shows on Sears.com and Kmart.com later this year. Both Sears and Kmart bricks-and-mortar stores will heavily promote the offering, which will be branded Alphaline Entertainment.

By adding video streaming, Sears, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, joins an increasingly crowded space that includes Best Buy Co.. Apple Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc. and Blockbuster Inc.

Sears had to enter the space, says Karen Austin, president of home electronics for Sears Holdings, because it anticipates physical media sales to decline 15% annually. "Certainly physical media consumption is a declining business so it is important for us to be there for our customers who want to digitally download media," she says.

Like Best Buy, which launched its video-streaming service Best Buy CinemaNow last month, Sears is using Sonic Solutions technology to deliver video to consumers’ screens as part of a multi-year agreement. Sonic Solutions also has a similar agreement with Blockbuster.

Once Sears launches the portal later this year, consumers will be able to stream content on mobile phones, as well as TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in technology for streaming, such as those manufactured by LG Electronics Inc and Samsung Electronics, some of which Sears Holdings sells in Sears and Kmart stores.

Sears aims to distinguish its offerings by offering exclusive pricing promotions, says Austin.

The entertainment services will offer a variety of regularly updated movies and TV shows for rent or purchase, including new releases often on the same day DVDs become available at retail stores.

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