Wednesday, August 11, 2004

WSJ.com - Blockbuster Launches New Online DVD Rental Service

WSJ.com - Blockbuster Launches New Online DVD Rental Service "Blockbuster Inc. (BBI), moving to expand from its slowing in-store movie-rentals business in the wake of competition from Internet-based rivals, launched an online service allowing customers to rent up to three DVDs at a time that will be sent through mail.
Like online DVD-rental pioneer Netflix Inc. (NFLX), the Blockbuster service will have no return dates or extended viewing fees for DVDs. Blockbuster said in a press release Wednesday that subscribers will also receive two free in-store movie-rental coupons each month.
The Blockbuster Online service will charge a monthly fee of $19.99, which below the $21.99 fee currently charged by Netflix."

Too little, too late, at least for my needs. I switched to Netflix a long time ago and haven't been to Blockbuster more than once or twice since.

Now I'm thinking Netflix won't be a great option for much longer either. I've indoctrinated my kids to all of the classic Star Trek episodes via Netflix, for instance, and also discovered the utility of Comcast on-demand (with pause/restart, etc.) offerings when Outdoor Life Network was offering on-demand recaps of Tour de France stages.

Comcast is also now offering services for on-demand movies from premium channels such as HBO. I haven't subscribed to premium cable TV movie channels (nor have I often used traditional/scheduled pay-per-view) because they always seemed to be showing Forest Gump or slasher movies at the times I'm most likely to want to view a movie, but if I can get great content and the flexibility of on-demand at a reasonable price from Comcast (e.g., less than the $21.99/month Netflix fee), I won't be a Netflix customer anymore.

Ultimately, while I think PC-based, integrated home entertainment and communication products have great potential, I just can't see how Blockbuster and Netflix can compete with Comcast if Comcast has the channel (the box atop my TV...), the content, and the convenience. Maybe I'll revisit Netflix or Blockbuster in the future, when they offer Internet-based, on-demand/streaming, and when PC-based information/entertainment/communication products obviate Comcast's current set-top box advantage.
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