Blockbuster Launch Online DVD Rental Service

Blockbuster have launched Blockbuster Online, as service that allows subscribers to choose films from the company’s 25,000 title catalogue – and then have them posted to their home.

Not quite the giant leap we were all hoping for, and a bit late, but it’s a step forward. This is essentially the same service that Netflix and others have been providing for, well, months. Years, even.

Blockbuster don’t think they’re late to market at all: “We think now is the opportune time for Blockbuster to enter the online rental business, and we plan to quickly establish ourselves in this arena by aggressively marketing, pricing and combining our online program and in-store capabilities,” said Shane Evangelist, Blockbuster vice president and general manager of BLOCKBUSTER Online. “Very simply, we plan on providing the best online movie rental service available. To this end, the BLOCKBUSTER Online monthly fee is currently priced below our biggest competitor for the three-out rental plan. Plus, we are offering 25,000 new release and catalogue titles. We believe that all of this, combined with our marketing savvy, should help Blockbuster to develop a substantial share of the online rental business by the end of next year.”

Certainly, recognition of the Blockbuster brand should make it easier for them to gain ground in an already established market.

Subscribers can rent unlimited films, up to three at a time, for US$19.99 (€16.30) a month. As they’re paying a subscription and can only hold three titles at a time, there are not late fees – so that copy of Three Weeks Notice can sit there unwatched for as long as you like, just because you can’t get to the post office.

Blockbuster will be offering free rental coupons valid in its stores to encourage subscribers to still pop into the local branch now and again – of course, posting DVDs means that customers won’t be buying so much high-margin popcorn and chocolates anymore.

Blockbuster Online

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?