Downloads on Tesco's list

Site will offer music, TV, games

Leading British supermarket group Tesco is taking on such online retailers as Amazon and Apple's iTunes, unveiling plans Tuesday for a major push into the content download space.

Tesco will launch this year, starting with music content but eventually offering music, television shows and video games.

The service, scheduled to launch with 3.3 million music downloads — some of which will come without digital rights management software — will be an extension of the success of the supermarket group's online retail service.

Tesco hasn't discussed its pricing model, but it is expected to build in rewards for its supermarket customers to cross-promote its bricks-and-mortar business.

"We're starting out with a comprehensive music offering, but customers can expect downloadable TV and films as well as games to buy very soon," Tesco commercial director Graham Harris said. "Music is just the start."

Downloads from the site will be MP3 and iPod compatible, Harris said.

The company launched in 2000. In November 2004, it became the first major British supermarket to enter the music download business, with a service offering more than 500,000 titles at a flat rate of 79 pence each ($1.46), and albums at £7.99 ($14.81). That service, however, offers downloads only in the Windows Media format.

Tesco accounted for 12.7% of U.K. record buyers' albums expenditure in 2006, according to labels body the BPI.