Sonic Solutions might not be the first name that comes to mind when consumers think of online movie services, but the company is getting ready for flip the switch on online movie storefronts under its RoxioNow label that will be accessible from literally hundreds of different consumer electronics products this holiday season, including HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and mobile devices from a broad range of manufacturers—including Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Panasonic, LG, Onkyo, Sharp, Samsung, Philips, and HTC. Overall, the company forecasts more than 30 million RoxioNow-enabled devices will be in consumers’ hands by June 2011, most of which will enable users to have access to premium movie and next-day TV programming from their living room or Web-enabled handsets. The company also has content partnerships with Dell, HP, and the now-bankrupt BlockBuster.
Sonic Solutions’ position in the online video market comes in part through two recent acquisitions: Sonic bought CinemaNow back in 2008, and earlier this year paid some $300 million for DivX. Retail electronics giant bought the CinemaNow tradename from Sonic back in May, but Sonic kept the infrastructure and studio agreements, pushing forward under the RoxioNow name.
Beginning this holiday season, Sonic will be lighting up retail partner storefronts that accompany branded electronic items. Unlike services like Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon Video on Demand, Sonic isn’t seeking to establish direct relationships with consumers: instead, the company is deploying a streaming movie infrastructure that consumer electronics manufacturers and mobile device makers can build into their products, without having to go to all the trouble of building and launching a service themselves. And as consumer demand for streaming and downloaded video services grows, Sonic is betting its service will become ubiquitous amongst device manufacturers.
Sonic may never be a household name, but when consumers plug in their newest high-tech electronics the odds are increasingly good that Sonic’s Internet-enabled video solutions and storefronts will be there right out off the box. Although electronics makers are undoubtedly interested in offering multiple solutions—including the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand—Sonic could give them a run for their money. From a consumer’s point of view, it may all come down to pricing: if getting movies and TV shows via RoxioNow is easy enough and inexpensive enough that consumers don’t balk at using the service—and a lot of that may come down to how intelligently manufacturers handle their own storefronts—Sonic’s broad ecosystem of consumer electronics partners may quickly position it as a powerful player in the online video market.