Detailed by Techcrunch this week, Target is getting closer to the launch of a movie and television show rental service that will compete directly with Walmart’s Vudu. Calling the service Target Ticket, users will be able to purchase rentals for $3.99 to $4.99 and purchase movies between $12.99 and $14.99. Television shows will cost approximately $2.99 per episode and a entire season will cost around $34.99. All the major television networks have signed on as well as premium networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz. On the movie side of the service, Target has entered into a partnership with the UltraViolet studios in order to provide digital downloads of films.
Similar to other digital rental services, users have 30 days to start watching a movie rental and 48 hours to finish the rental after the movie is started. As you would expect, these digital copies can be played on desktop computers, laptops, iOS and Android mobile devices in addition to streaming set-top boxes, gaming consoles and smart televisions.
Regarding smart television compatibility, Target Ticket content can be played on Samsung televisions and blu-ray players right now. According to the internal Target Ticket site, other manufacturers coming on board include Panasonic, LG, Philips and Funai.
Since the service is very similar to Walmart’s Vudu and Apple’s iTunes, one small competitive advantage that Target may have is the store’s REDcard discount program. If a user is enrolled in the REDcard program, they will be able to receive a five percent discount on all items purchases through Target Ticket. Basically, standard movie rentals would cost between $3.80 and $4.75 when using a REDcard. That slight discount could be just enough to encourage more rentals. Similar to other services, Target will also run sales on specific titles from time to time.
Target Ticket includes very strong parental control options, definitely a step up from services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Beyond limiting access based of a maximum TV Parental Guidelines or MPAA rating, parents can utilize Common Sense Media controls to specifically block content filled with bad language, violence, drinking, drugs or smoking.
In addition, anything that’s not rated by those organizations simply won’t show up in the content feed. Parents can assign these ratings to specific profiles within the Target Ticket service. Users can also assign a security pin number in order to make sure the kids can’t purchase content or access profile settings.
Unless Target significantly changes the structure of the service prior to launch, it’s highly unlikely that Target Ticket will compete with monthly subscription services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant Video or Redbox Instant. If Target can manage to launch the service prior to Black Friday, the company could package deals with television purchases that include a specific amount of free rentals or purchases through Target Ticket. According to a Target team member on Twitter, new users will receive 10 free rentals for simply signing up when Target Ticket goes public. At the moment, the service is still being privately beta tested among Target employees, but store employees have been trained on explaining the service to customers already.