While Blockbuster is hardly a new name to the video rental space, they're relatively new when it comes to delivering movies directly to your mailbox. Blockbuster's recent foray into the direct mail business comes as a direct result of Netflix's success and Blockbuster's subsequent financial woes as a result. While Blockbuster's physical rental stores may be dying on the vine, their direct mail rental service appears to be gaining strength, though they have a long way to go if they hope to catch Netflix anytime soon. That being said, there are a number of factors that keep Blockbuster in the game, not to mention in the hunt for the top spot for your rental dollars: mainly their ability to rent new Hollywood releases.
Earlier this year Netflix caved to the major studios' demands and granted them a 30-day exclusivity window before allowing their customers to rent the latest Hollywood blockbusters, a move not echoed by Blockbuster or any of the other direct mail and even downloads services such as iTunes. Now, Netflix went on record defending their decision by saying it would give them an opportunity to boost awareness for streaming movies - something Netflix is essentially betting the farm on. Whether you agree or disagree with Netflix's decision (I happen to applaud their thinking, disagree with their methodology) streaming movies in near real time is the future. However for the time being, it has left the door open for competitors such as Blockbuster and Redbox to cash in on by allowing their users/fans to rent the current new releases the day they're released.
Redbox on the other hand is an entirely different animal. While a competitor to both Netflix and Blockbuster, Redbox is a kiosk-based service whereby consumers simply pay for the movies they wish to rent in 24 hour increments versus having to pay a monthly fee. Redbox has proven to be immensely popular among consumers, with giant red kiosks popping up in cities and suburbs all across America the way Starbucks coffee chains did in the late nineties. It also doesn't hurt that Redbox kiosks can be found in virtually every Wal-Mart store in North America.
With the competition being so fierce, how do these three services differentiate themselves from one another - and which should you choose?
• Netflix is the nation's largest direct mail provider of DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
• Netflix is expanding their streaming movie library each and everyday with new releases being offered via streaming before they're available to rent.
• Netflix subscription fees start at $8.99/month for one DVD or streaming movie at-a-time, as many times as you wish in a month. The price increases to $13.99 for two DVDs or streaming movies at-a-time and goes up to $47.99 a month for up to eight DVDs or streaming movies at-a-time. There is also a Limited Plan that allows customers to rent one DVD at-a-time (limit two per month) and watch up to two hours of streaming content for $4.99 per month. All prices are per month and require an active credit or check card.
• Netflix charges $2.00 per month extra to rent Blu-ray discs.
• Netflix has a 30-day delay on all new Hollywood DVD and Blu-ray releases.