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Blockbuster Buys Movielink

The video-rental titan gains access to a vast array of downloadable movie and TV content.
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Video-rental chain

Blockbuster

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said late Wednesday that it is buying digital movie download service Movielink.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Movielink, created as a joint venture among five movie studios in 2002 to offer legal downloads, is a Web-based video on demand (VOD) and electronic sell-through (EST) service that has movies, TV shows and videos for rental or purchase.

In the deal, Dallas-based Blockbuster gains access to a large library of movies and TV content which it can rent and sell to consumers and is downloadable via their PCs, portable devices, television-connected home networks and approved set-top boxes.

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Also, the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, heats up the rivalry between Blockbuster and

Netflix

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.

Blockbuster plans to continue to operate the Movielink service and to "eventually make elements of the service available through blockbuster.com," it said in a statement.

Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes said in a statement that, "Now, in addition to the entertainment content we provide through our stores and by mail, we have taken an important step toward being able to make movie downloading conveniently available to computers, portable devices and ultimately to the television at home."

Shares of Blockbuster gained 8.8% to $4.60 after hours.