Can Target’s Video Service Compete with iTunes?


Target Corp.’s (NYSE:TGT) video-streaming service meant to compete with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes and Wal-Mart’s (NYSE:WMT) Vudu will launch soon, according to a TechCrunch report.

The service, called Target Ticket, will allow customers to buy movies and TV shows that can then be streamed on tablets, smartphones, game consoles, and TV set-top boxes. The beta version of the website has been tested with Target employees since the beginning of the year. The service allows users to rent or purchase specific content instead of running on a subscription basis like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).

The beta website says it provides “instant access to 15,000 titles, new releases, classic movies and next-day TV,” then prompts users to enter their employee information in order to gain access to the site.

According to TechCrunch, the movies on Target Ticket will cost between $12.99 and $14.99 to purchase and between $3.99 and $4.99 to rent. TV episodes will cost about $2.99 each, with full seasons priced at $34.99. Prices vary depending on the movie or show but are comparably priced to content on iTunes. Networks that have signed on to be part of the service include CBS-owned (NYSE:CBS) Showtime, Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) (NASDAQ:STRZB), Disney-owned (NYSE:DIS) ABC, CBS, and Fox (NASDAQ:FOX).

Multichannel News reported on the latest developments to Target Ticket, which include access to a service called UltraViolet that allows users to access the digital version of a movie or TV show purchased on DVD or BluRay. The beta service is available as an app on Apple’s App Store and the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play store, and can support Macs or PCs. Though the pricing is similar to Apple’s iTunes and the service works across a variety of platforms, it remains to be seen if Target Ticket can compete with Apple’s extremely well-known service, as Target is known for selling discount merchandise, not digital content.

When Target reported second-quarter earnings at the end of the month, it was clear the discount retailer had been suffering, along with Wal-Mart and Macy’s (NYSE:M), due to consumers limiting their spending to necessities. In addition to limiting retail spending, consumers have been cutting back on expensive cable and satellite pay-TV services in favor of less expensive streaming options like Netflix. Target and Wal-Mart are both hoping to make up for the dip in retail spending by providing cheaper TV and movies that consumers seem to be willing to spend on.

For the moment, the beta service of Target Ticket is only available for employees and holders of Target store credit and debit cards. Target hasn’t yet commented on when exactly the service will be launched.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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