Although it still carries the “beta” label, Target Ticket, the retailer’s new multiscreen digital video service, launched nationwide Wednesday, almost a week ahead of a plan to debut the service by October 1.
Target Ticket is kicking off with a library of 30,000 movies and TV shows for purchase or rental alongside support for UltraViolet, a studio-backed digital locker system that lets customers buy titles on DVD or Blu-ray and redeem digital versions that can be played back on PCs, tablets, gaming consoles and connected TVs. Target's new service also lets customers create individual profiles.
Target Ticket, which offers access to episodes of TV shows such as The Walking Dead and Big Bang Theory the day after their premiere on linear television, allows customers to stream or downloaded titles at home or on the go. Target Ticket is also presenting movies and TV shows in genre-based collections, such as “Marvel Movies,” “End of the World Movies,” and award-nominated TV shows. On Wednesday, Target Ticket was selling an early release of After Earth for $15.99 (HD version) or $13.99 (SD).
Pricing varies by title and format. For example, Target Ticket is selling the HD version of The Croods for $14.99, while the standard-def version goes for $12.99. It's currently selling World War Z for $19.99 (HD), $14.99 (SD), or renting it out for $4.99 (HD) or $3.99 (SD). Target Ticket is also pitching seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones for $36.99 (HD) or $28.99 (SD) each, or individual episodes for $3.99 (HD) or $2.99 (SD). On Wednesday, the service was pitching After Earth for $15.99 (HD) or $13.99 (SD) ahead of the movie's October 8 release on DVD and Blu-ray.
Each Target Ticket purchase comes with five device licenses.
Target Ticket is also billing itself as a kid-friendly service, touting a partnership with Common Sense Media that will provide thousands of reviews to help customers with kids find age-appropriate content on the service.
To promote the service early on, Target Ticket is offering 10 free downloads on “select movies” to new customers through February 22, 2014. Holders of the Target REDcard get a 5% discount on Target Ticket purchases.
Target Ticket will initially support PC browsers, iOS and Android devices, Roku boxes, the Xbox 360, and select Samsung-made TVs and Blu-ray players. It expects to add additional devices to the mix in the coming months.
Target’s new video entry faces stiff competition from Apple iTunes, Amazon, Vudu (owned by Walmart), and M-GO, the Technicolor/Dreamworks Animation joint venture that launched earlier this year and on Wednesday struck a deal with Roku that gives M-GO premium placement on the Roku home page and a button on remote controls that come with select Roku streaming player models.
Target believes its kid-friendly, streamlined approach will help it to stand out in this crowded field.
“Many of our guests told us that streaming and viewing videos is complicated, so we created Target Ticket to simplify the experience,” said Anne Stanchfield, Target’s divisional merchandise manager of entertainment, in a statement. “Target Ticket will help guests who are looking for a kid-safe, easy-to-use service that mirrors what they have come to expect from Target’s entertainment offerings – a premium selection of the newest titles plus exclusive content, all at an affordable price.”
Target Ticket began to beta test the service earlier this year, starting off with about 15,000 titles.