HMV seems set to join the ranks of LoveFilm and Zune in the UK as a film rental outfit that will stream content to users via the web.

Digital distribution is most definitely in vogue at the moment, with various games retailers gearing up to make the move into downloads – film is just as obvious a market given that the potential for a HMV-run streaming service in the UK would perform as well as if they started offering digital downloads of the latest games.

30-day rentals come as standard with many streaming services, with a 48 hour timer from the first time the user hits “play” – often rendered a pointless set of rules when some streaming services play the damn thing automatically, but HMV’s system has not been revealed, so we’ll have to wait to find that out.

Usability will be a little limited at first, with the content being web-only, but HMV have plans to roll it out on other digital devices – if I could finally stream a film to a smartphone, I think this would sell it for me – if LoveFilm and the others don’t actually beat HMV to it.

Many people will be wondering what the pricing structure will look like, as any matching or higher prices compared to other streaming outlets will need to be justified by a better range of films. This shouldn’t be hard, as LoveFilm struggles when it comes to, say, PS3 streaming, where the range of content is considerably more limited than the mountains of DVDs available to rent from the site.

Ideally, we’ll be taking a closer look at the HMV streaming service when it hits the web. Until then, we’ll stick to whatever’s available and enjoy the inevitable price-drops that accompany the announcement of a new challenger in the arena.

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