Review: 'Target Ticket'

Trget Ticket
I've worked at fresh new start-ups and established media companies and one tendency most places have in common is the urge to do something because "everyone else is doing it." The company executives look around, ask why aren't "we doing X when all of our competitors have already launched something?" And then money gets thrown into a project that has no defined purpose or reason to exist other than than this vague feeling it's a market "we should be in."

That feeling is the only reason I can see for the launch of Target Ticket, a new "digital entertainment service" that seems to be aimed at consumers who purchase digital movies and TV shows from Amazon and/or iTunes. And ultimately, that lack of differentiation makes the decision to launch this service a bit of a head-scratcher.

Target Ticket has a wide variety of movies and TV shows for either purchase or rental. The terms and prices are similar to what you'd find on competing services, except that you're probably already familiar with those competitors. There's a Target Ticket channel available for Roku, with other platforms promised to be "on the way." All and all, it's as if someone at Target made a list of the minimum requirements for a digital entertainment service and then checked them off one by one.

The only real differentiation for Target Ticket is the ease in which customers can integrate media from their Ultraviolet account. Many new DVDs and Blu-Ray titles come with the ability to put a copy of the title into an Ultraviolet account, which means the movie or TV show is available digitally and you can watch it instantly on any UV-capable device. Target Ticket makes it easy to add Ultraviolet titles into your TT account and vice versa.

It's an interesting wrinkle, but in theory having an Ultraviolet account should allow viewers to access their digital titles without help from a third party such as Target Ticket. Which makes the Ultraviolet integration helpful, but not to the extent that it makes the service worth using for most people.

After spending some time with Target Ticket, I find myself wondering if anyone at Target asked the questions faced by any new venture. Is there an actual need for this service, other than the fact it satisfies some business-driven ego? Exactly who are the customers and why should they use this particular service? These are important things to consider and I'm not convinced anyone at Target has the answers.

I like Target. But I find myself stumped by the business rationale for Target Ticket, unless there are some features coming in the future that aren't apparent at the service's launch.