Speaking at the Tesco Hudl 2 launch this morning there was one topic that Tesco’s Group Digital Officer Michael Comish clearly didn’t want to talk about: the fate of Blinkbox, the on-demand video and music streaming service that the retailer owns.
When asked directly by a Bloomberg journalist amongst the assembled hacks whether the service was getting the chop, after dithering he said something like “I know there’s been a lot of speculation about this” followed by “I’m not going to add to that speculation today”, presumably whilst glancing to the back of the room to check for the nearest fire exit.
The rumoured sale of Blinkbox is off the back of Tesco’s, umm, balance sheet mess-up, and word that Tesco would rather not haemorrhage money cash on a service that has a tiny market share compared to the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
Interestingly another journalist in attendance asked a question implicitly linking the Blinkbox rumours to Hudl, asking “will this be the last Hudl?”. Perhaps unsurprisingly Comish managed to use an awful lot of words to essentially say “We don’t know, it’ll depend on sales” but then he also added that Hudl – of which the first one sold 150,000 units – was “commercially viable”. This doesn’t necessarily mean Tesco is making a profit on the tablets, but it does suggest that the company believes the tablets at least assist in making profits from users making use of Tesco services on the devices. (By comparison, it is widely believed Amazon sell Kindles cheaply, to hook people into their book-selling eco-system, and then they make a killing on that).
So what can we read into this about the future of Blinkbox? Essentially, I wouldn’t put money on it remaining with Tesco for much longer.