Blockbuster CEO open to partnerships with telecoms

A Blockbuster video store is seen in this undated file photo handout. REUTERS/Handout

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Blockbuster Inc , the largest U.S. movie rental chain, is open to collaboration with telecom companies such as Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc as it expands into the video-on-demand business, chief executive officer Jim Keyes said on Tuesday.

“As we move toward video-on-demand and pay-per-view, Blockbuster is well positioned not only to compete on our own, but also to partner with others,” said Keyes to analysts at a Citigroup media conference.

Blockbuster in November rolled out a digital media player that allows customers to download high-definition quality movies to their TVs via broadband lines. Rival Netflix Inc, released a service to watch movies over the Web six months earlier.

Verizon and AT&T have begun offering packages of high-speed Internet and video along with phone services to help them compete better with cable service providers.

“We’re very focused on providing a lot of video (content) for consumers who have an insatiable appetite for it, so speaking to companies that provide video content makes a great deal of sense and we should be speaking to companies like this,” said Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro.

AT&T was not immediately available for comment.

“We represent a good partner for other players as we evolve into the video on demand business, so perhaps it’s Verizon or AT&T selecting a relationship with Blockbuster to compete against cable or satellite, or vice versa,” said Keyes.

“We will position ourselves to be a player on our own or to be a good collaboration partner with others leveraging the brand and the customer relationships that we have today.”

Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Bernard Orr