Having your DVDs and Blu-ray discs shipped directly to your door, a.k.a. mailbox, was little more than a pipe dream a few years ago; however today it has become the go-to solution for many home theater enthusiasts. Netflix, arguably the largest provider of direct mail DVD and Blu-ray rentals has garnered much of the space’s attention as well as its revenue. However times are changing and where there’s money to be made, expect competition. Enter Blockbuster and Redbox.
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.
Read about Blockbuster and Redbox on Page 2.
• Blockbuster offers the ability to rent DVDs, Blu-ray discs and video
games online and have them sent direct to your home mailbox for a
• You can stream Blockbuster films via the Internet on PC-only capable devices.
• Monthly plans start at $8.99 for one disc at-a-time service and go up
to $16.99 for three discs at-a-time. Blockbuster also offers “Total
Access” packages, which include the ability to return your moves and
games to any Blockbuster store with prices starting at $11.99 for one
disc at-a-time and maxing out at $19.99. All prices are per month and
require an active credit or check card.
• There is no up charge for renting Blu-ray discs.
• You can rent video games for your PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii as part of your monthly subscription.
• There is no delay on renting new Hollywood releases on DVD or Blu-ray.
• You can reserve your movie online and pick it up at the nearest Redbox kiosk or browse the selection and rent on site.
• Rentals, be they a pickup or point of sale, require an active credit or check card.
• Rentals are for a 24-hour period at a time and cost $1.00. First time
customers can rent up to two DVDs at a time; however return customers
can rent up to five DVDs at a time. All rentals must be returned before
9pm the day after you rent so as not to incur additional fees. Rented
discs may be returned to any Redbox kiosk anywhere in the US.
• There are no delays for new releases.
• Blu-ray disc rentals are limited and cost an additional $0.50 per disc.
• Movies can be purchased at any Redbox kiosk and are shipped directly to you.
• Redbox requires no monthly subscription or fees.
So which service is best? Well, that’s largely up to you, your needs
and your budget. One thing is certain – there’s stiff competition for
your home entertainment dollars. For me, I switched from Netflix to
Blockbuster. The up charge for Blu-ray movies was just too much to
stomach for me, plus the Netflix shipping delays are notably worse than
those with Blockbuster where I live.