British streaming music service Blinkbox signed up more than 1m registered users in its first year, reaching the milestone of 1bn streams. Yet the service – along with its video and e-book focused siblings – has been the subject of rumours for several months that its parent company Tesco is keen to offload it.
Now a suitor has emerged: mobile operator Vodafone, which according to the Telegraph is in “detailed talks” with Tesco over buying Blinkbox, with other parties having withdrawn from the bidding process.
As with the initial rumours of a sale, the new speculation seems to be focusing on video rather than music. “Vodafone is basically starting from scratch in content. This will give them a big leg-up,” a source tells the Telegraph.
“Blinkbox’s market positioning also suits them. It focuses on new films that will be attractive to the premium customers that Vodafone targets.” If this really is about Vodafone’s ambitions in pay-TV, then what happens to the music elements of Blinkbox remains up in the air.
It would certainly be an interesting new step in Vodafone’s cyclical content strategy, which has moved from working on own-brand download stores with the likes of Sony NetServices (and, after it was acquired, with its new owner RealNetworks) to more of an emphasis on third-party deals like its 4G bundle with Spotify.
Vodafone would also be a new chapter of ownership for Blinkbox Music, which started life as streaming service we7 before it was acquired by Tesco in 2012, then rebranded. But as we said, let’s see if the Vodafone deal goes through, and then whether its motivations are purely about video rather than music.