Carrefour to offer movie downloads

Service launcing in four European territories

PARIS -- Carrefour Group, the world's No. 2 retailer behind Wal-Mart, is entering the movie download business, launching a new service in its four key European territories: France, Spain, Belgium and Italy.

Announcing the initiative at the PEVE Digital Entertainment conference Friday, Carrefour's international non-food chief Christophe Geoffroy said the site will offer both download-to-own and download-to-rent movies and television programs.

Geoffroy, whose company currently has a 13.3% market share of the €2 billion DVD market in those territories, said the decision to launch into digital distribution is an extension of Carrefour's focus on entertainment.

"It's very important for Carrefour to have more than one point of sale," he said. "We have to be in contact with the consumer in their homes as well as in-store. We know full well that the market forecast for VOD is low at the moment, but we are convinced that it will develop over the coming years and we want to provide a legal solution for customers to see the best possible content."

While he declined to offer prices for the downloads, saying they will vary across the countries, he said they will be competitive with the market and that the process will be as simple and fast as possible.

"It's going to be very straightforward, not at all complicated, and we want to be able to give the consumer a very positive experience," he said. "After 2-3 minutes with a normal broadband connection, people can see the film, they don't have to wait an hour for it to download."

The move into digital did not spell the end of store-based sales, he aded, echoing calls by other speakers at the conference to look at other means of attracting consumers than price.