How Starbucks Is About to Become

Decision to speed up in-store Wi-Fi will make Starbucks stores a key distribution platform for entertainment

As Hollywood takes advantage of new digital platforms to distribute — and monetize — its content, Starbucks is about to play a more important role for studios as a revenue source.

The coffee chain said Wednesday it has brewed up a new deal with Google to provide free in-store Wi-Fi to customers using laptops, tablets and smartphones in its stores that will be ten times faster than the current wireless service it offers through AT&T.

Starbucks plans to convert more than 7,000 stores in the U.S. to the faster network. AT&T will continue to provide Internet access during the transition.

Starbucks and Google will also co-develop a new Starbucks Digital Network, which currently provides access to news and entertainment from sources like the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s iTunes, USA Today, ESPN, Yahoo! Finance, Zagat, Marvel Digital Comics, Nick Jr. Boost, SnagFilms, Yahoo! entertainment and Starbucks’ own entertainment arm.

Expect Google-owned ventures like YouTube to play a key role in the next iteration of the network — especially as Google looks to put its services in front of more users and grow its Google Play media and app store, as well as YouTube networks and online advertising business.

Starbucks launched its Digital Network in 2010, the same year it began providing free Wi-Fi services at its stores through AT&T.

Starbucks believes faster Internet will attract more consumers to spend more time inside its stores. That will hopefully translate into increased of beverages and food. But for Hollywood, that will also boost the number of people looking at online content, a win for the entertainment industry.

For Hollywood, Google’s partnership with Starbucks will clearly mean more eyeballs for its content and advertising, not only for entertainment offered up through Google’s various business but also through other platforms like Netflix, Hulu and iTunes given the faster Wi-Fi speeds to come.

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