News is breaking in the UK today that the supermarket chain Tesco is getting out of streaming video. The Guardian, Time of London, and other sources are reporting that Tesco CEO Dave Lewis has started a strategic review of Blinkbox, the streaming video service which Tesco acquired 3 years ago.
Lewis is reportedly planning to either sell or shutter Blinkbox in order to reduce Tesco’s losses. Neither Tesco nor Blinkbox spokespersons are commenting, and that is leaving a lot of questions unanswered.
For example, we still don’t know whether Tesco will shut down its entire media division, including the ebookstore, or just down just the streaming video service.
Tesco has been buying or building a digital media unit over the past several years in order to sell video, music, and – most importantly for this blogger – ebooks. The retailer acquired the ebook distributor Mobcast in 2012, and used Mobcast to launch Blinkbox Books earlier this year.
The digital media unit was intended to complement Tesco’s Hudl Android tablet and provide a multi-pronged competitor to Amazon, which offers the Kindle Fire, as well as apps, ebooks, music, and streaming video in the UK.
But now it looks like Tesco’s digital plans aren’t working out as well as they would like, so when they are said to be talking about closing one service they might actually be discussing shutting down the entire unit.
That would be disappointing, but when it comes to ebooks it would also not be much of a surprise. Amazon reportedly has over a 75% share of the UK book market, so if Tesco’s ebookstore was still taking losses it might make sense to pull out of that market.
But at this point we don’t know what’s going on, so we’ll have to wait and see.
P.S. If you are a Tesco customer and receive an email on this topic, please do me the favor of forwarding it.