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Print 36 comment(s) - last by courtjester123.. on Dec 7 at 6:05 PM

The free hand strikes in the online DVD rental market

In a wonderful display of competition, Blockbuster said today that it is giving Netflix subscribers free rentals from Dec. 5 through Dec. 21 in exchange for the tear-off address flaps of their Netflix rental envelopes.

Netflix subscribers who wish to participate in the program can tear off the address flaps they normally discard when mailing back their DVDs and turn them in at any participating Blockbuster store to receive a free in-store movie rental. They can continue to bring in their envelope flaps and exchange them for free in-store rentals for the duration of the promotion. Netflix customers do not need to subscribe to Blockbuster's online program to participate, but a Blockbuster store membership is required. Also, the name on the Netflix tear-off flaps must match the name on the holder's Blockbuster membership account.

"This holiday season, Blockbuster Total Access is giving Netflix customers the gift of immediate movie gratification," said John Antioco, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO. "We want these movie fans to experience getting the movies they want without the wait so they never have to be without a movie, just like Blockbuster Total Access subscribers."

When asked to comment on Blockbuster’s latest move, Netflix seemed unfazed. "I think most folks know that if you get something free you're getting what you pay for," Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said to Reuters. "The very reason for online DVD rental is that you don't have to go to the store. It's the convenience, selection and value."

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter said: "This isn't about subscribers. Subscribers don't matter … What matters is that Blockbuster is not likely to ever lose another customer to Netflix (as a result of Total Access). Ultimately you look at value for your monthly fee."

Blockbuster Total Access is a movie rental program that gives online customers the option of returning their DVDs through the mail or exchanging them at more than 5,000 participating Blockbuster stores for free in-store movie rentals. When subscribers return their online rentals to a participating store, the store check-in process automatically initiates the process of shipping of the next available movie(s) in the subscriber's rental queue, whether or not they take advantage of the free in-store rental. Existing subscribers to Blockbuster's online rental service were automatically upgraded to Blockbuster Total Access at no extra charge when the program was launched Nov. 1, 2006.



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I return the same day they arrive
By jmunjr on 12/5/2006 10:12:56 PM , Rating: 1
I rent 8 at a time, and when they come in I rip them to my hard drive and send them back the same day. I can get 60-80 movies a month like that, all stored on my hard drive for viewing at a later date.




RE: I return the same day they arrive
By Etsp on 12/6/2006 1:05:59 AM , Rating: 3
I wish I had your storage solution....


RE: I return the same day they arrive
By Spivonious on 12/6/2006 10:35:29 AM , Rating: 4
You do realize that what you're doing is illegal.


By retrospooty on 12/6/2006 11:11:09 AM , Rating: 1
"You do realize that what you're doing is illegal."

LOL... Always one in the crowd.


RE: I return the same day they arrive
By TomZ on 12/6/2006 11:24:02 AM , Rating: 2
It's only a practical problem if he/she if giving away or selling copies of the movies. Nobody is going to bother you if you have personal copies that you don't share with others. Get real.


RE: I return the same day they arrive
By sabby1225 on 12/6/2006 12:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's clearly in violation of the DMCA; circumventing copyright protection.


RE: I return the same day they arrive
By Farva on 12/6/2006 12:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
...poor poor 321 Studios...


RE: I return the same day they arrive
By TomZ on 12/6/2006 12:44:38 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say anything about it being illegal or not. Speeding is also illegal, but most drivers also speed. I was just saying that from a practical standpoint, if you're keeping your copies to yourself, you are unlikely to be bothered. This is because you are not causing any real economic harm, so there is no financial incentive for anyone to go after you. This is different than, e.g., if you put up a server and allowed others to access your ripped DVD movies.


By courtjester123 on 12/7/2006 6:05:01 PM , Rating: 2
TomZ your arguments are pointless. There is no way you can possibly justify such blatant piracy by claiming it's a victimless crime. If all Netflix customers rented 60-80 movies a month do you think they would still be in business? No. Even as one of the 4 largest customers of the U.S. Postal Service, do you think Netflix gets their mail service free of charge? No. The higher their costs, the more they pass those costs to all of their customers, equally, in real dollars that come out of peoples' pockets. This person might not get bothered but that doesn't mean it's not harmless. Sure, defending anti-piracy is not a popular thing to do, and one may not get sympathy for the movie studios and other people getting fat on the huge costs of entertainment, but get real.


Blockbuster
By Farva on 12/5/2006 10:58:27 PM , Rating: 3
I work at Blockbuster, but I have not had to do this Netflix tearoff promo yet as I didn't work today. Funny thing is that this is the first I have heard of this promotion...and I was at work yesterday...gotta love that corporate communication chain.

Anyways, Netflix does needs to do something because Blockbuster's online program tends to get movies to the door faster as the movies ship from both distro centers and the stores. I don't say that because I work there; I don't give a rip about Blockbuster. However, I think the next few years will be very interesting as Blockbuster has been trying extremely hard to steal Netflix customers. Personally, though I think none of you should take advantage of this promotion because I just don't want to have to deal with slips that people went digging though the trash for. lol




RE: Blockbuster
By Chaser on 12/6/2006 9:42:15 AM , Rating: 2
I have used Netflix and my g/f tried Blockbusters online service.

Let's put a little perspective here. Netflix has been capturing more and more of BB's "store" market share and the bigwigs at B.B. there have noticed.

Their first response was their renigned "No late fees campaign". Remember the signs on the doors and windows that lasted about 2 months?

Apparently the backlash of videos showing up late at stores made this a bad decision as all those signs vanished replaced by little fine print disclaimers about "restocking fees." I myself had rented a Blockbuster video and 7 days later I received a friendly automated reminder call trying to explain that even though ther weree "no late fees" I'd be paying one if I didn't return my video promptly. this call was made on my cell phone, while I was at work.

Needless to say, that day I cut my Blockbuster card in two, attacked it to the outside of the rental box and returned it permanently. I don't do business with B.B. anymore.

Back to the Netflix comparision. Netflix built itself from the ground up as a mail order operation. Unlike B.B. Online that is trying to play catch up. And it shows. My g/f places an order with B.B. online and they don't arrive in the next day consistency like my Netflix orders do.

Now they are doing this Netflix label promotion. A good idea to get some Netflix people into the stores more but I don't think it will do much against the flood, like me.


RE: Blockbuster
By TomZ on 12/6/2006 11:26:37 AM , Rating: 3
The purpose of this promotion is to build up a database of Netflix users, so that they can entice them to become BB online customers. Online and store are two separate, but related, markets, and clearly BB needs to be successful in both if they want to continue to move forward.


RE: Blockbuster
By Farva on 12/6/2006 12:45:42 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that they are seperate markets, but Blockbuster is trying to combine them so that they can capitalize on having the comparative advantage of actually having physical stores.

Is this plan actually going to work or not? No one knows. Probably not all that well because most people don't like change and/or are just lazy. Then those people will not want to switch from Netflix and/or bother to come into the stores whether it be because there isn't a BB store around or because they just don't particularly like to go into the sun.


RE: Blockbuster
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2006 2:07:49 PM , Rating: 2
But what is the advantage of a physical store? We've a couple blockbuster stores within two or three miles from home, but our mailbox is a LOT closer. I also can do a 'store search' on Netflix a lot easier than I can looking through physical store.


RE: Blockbuster
By Farva on 12/6/2006 5:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
The advantage of a physical store is mainly just for new releases. As someone else has said if you come in on a Tuesday or Wednesday you are almost guaranteed the movies that just came out that week. With an online que it is a toss up as to whether your movie will ship or if you will have to wait for the popularity to die down.

I had Netflix when it first started so I never had problems with this but I have heard many people complain about BOTH Netflix and Blockbusters online program not shipping the newest and most popular movies due to quantity issues.


RE: Blockbuster
By Farva on 12/6/2006 1:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
Very few people now actually get those automated phone calls. Some still do and no one on the store level really knows why as it is a corporate database computer that makes the calls.

As far as the no late fees...it is a $1.25 fee per movie but you have to realize that you have 10 days AFTER the due date to return the movie so a week long rental can be kept for 17 days before any restocking fee is imposed. Then it says only a $1.25 for 30 days after the 17 that the movie has already been out. Of course, after the 30 days the movie is charged off and the customer not the owner of that movie and must pay for it, but for this to happen the movie would have had to been out for a grand total of 47 days. I would just personally like to know how someone cannot return a movie within 47 days. 17 days for that matter aswell.

Yes, I know the back of the receipt says 7 and everyone will tell you in the store 7, but the computer doesn't charge until 10 days after the due date.


RE: Blockbuster
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2006 2:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
What do you mean about 'get out the door faster'? Vast majority of the time, Netflix sends out my next video the same day one arrives, and I get it the next day. So if I receive a video on Monday, watch it Monday night, mail it back Tuesday, they'll get it Wednesday and I'll get my next DVD on on Thursday. Sometimes it'll be delayed an additional day and once in a while it doesn't come from the distribution center that's about 60 miles away (so add another day or two for postal transport), but at least 80% or so follow this quick pattern. Ones that come from "remote" distribution centers get sent back to my local one, so the added delay is only one way on those. Netflix has a *LOT* of distribution centers, so I don't think my experience is unusual. Yes the top half dozen DVDs on my list have been sitting there forever ("long wait"), but those are ones that Blockbuster stores wouldn't even think of having -- so store waits would be even longer. :-)


Overwhelmed
By microAmp on 12/5/2006 7:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
Who wants to bet they'll get overwhelmed and they cut this offer shorter.




RE: Overwhelmed
By mattsaccount on 12/5/2006 7:37:17 PM , Rating: 3
I'm a Netflix subscriber but don't plan to take advantage of the offer. I'd rather pay simply to avoid having to go to the video store :) I suspect I'm in the minority. In any case, good for them. Give Netflix a reason to sweat a little.


RE: Overwhelmed
By gerf on 12/5/2006 7:59:35 PM , Rating: 2
I get it because there's no Blockbuster nearby, "Movie Gallery" nearby doesn't do monthly rentals, and charges up the arse.


RE: Overwhelmed
By Behlal on 12/5/2006 8:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
I used to use an online rental service, but issues with not getting my top choice and the wait was enough to make me move back to picking them up from my local store (barely a block away, so perhaps more convenient for me than others). I know many online rental services have now addressed the issues I had, but it is nice to just be able to go grab a movie that I only realized I wanted to watch five minutes earlier, rather than adding it to a queue and hoping it comes quickly. That said, every time I can't find a movie at my local store, I regret not having the online service :)


RE: Overwhelmed
By Oregonian2 on 12/5/2006 8:05:46 PM , Rating: 2
Me neither. The trash can near our DVD player is mostly only used for the envelope labels, I've probably at least a dozen in there if I were to fish through it, if not more -- not sure when it was last emptied (not often with just those flaps in it).

We used to drive around town to different Blockbuster stores prior to Netflix. The number one problem with stores is the number of movies to choose from. After a year or so of Blockbusters, we pretty much ran out of films (other than new ones coming out) that we'd want to see. Netflix has a tremendously larger choice than a store, no contest, not even close. Blockbuster online may be a competitor to think about (haven't checked lately, but I think they finally fixed their web response time that used to be unusably slow), but the stores weren't much good unless one really only saw a couple movies a month sort of rates (rather than quite a bit more than that).


RE: Overwhelmed
By thescreensavers on 12/5/2006 8:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
HOLY!! I GOT OVER 100 OF THOUSE THINGS.I just put them in the garbage noo!!! to bad blocbuster is gana have to live wiht smelly things laying in there stores


RE: Overwhelmed
By jeffbui on 12/6/06, Rating: 0
Lost it
By codeThug on 12/5/2006 9:03:40 PM , Rating: 3
Blockbuster lost my business for good years ago with their excessive late fees. I ain't lookin' back...




RE: Lost it
By Sulik2 on 12/6/2006 1:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Umm, you do realize you can keep a movie for the rental period +7 days for no fee. Then after that, as long as you return in the next 30 days its only $1.33. Just use a credit card, they auto sell, return before you are billed. Its great for games, keep it a month for $10 bucks if you count the initial rental fee.


RE: Lost it
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2006 2:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
With netflix, I think they'd be happy if one just kept it for a couple years. In fact, I think they'd prefer it. Cuts down on the postage they'd have to pay as well as less work for their distribution center. It's in their interest for people to keep disks as LONG as possible!


Impressed with Blockbuster
By modestninja on 12/5/2006 8:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
I signed up for free last month and have so far been impressed with the service especially after they started the total access. I've got a store within 5 blocks of my place so it's really easy to go there.

Since they've brought in the total access i have yet to be without a movie since they give me free rentals whenever I bring my movies to the store. This allows me to get any of the new releases (since they have the bigger ones guaranteed most of the time) and my DVD turn around time is a day. The only thing I can see that needs to be improved is the that your queue isn't updated by the movies that you rent in store (and that you have no access to your queue in store in case you forget which movie you want.)




RE: Impressed with Blockbuster
By sonicDivx on 12/6/2006 8:41:55 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, Blockbuster is really stepping it up , may have to look at Total Access again. The real downside for me is that neither Netflix or Blockbuster have the Anime/Independent/Foreign selection of Greencine. I have blockbuster 1 mile up the road. With there current program I could effectively double my rentals, good for the kids movies.

Ahh and the HTPC is almost done....


BB Online is great!
By Spivonious on 12/6/2006 10:40:13 AM , Rating: 2
I love BB Online. The movies ship in around 2-3 days. You get two free in-store rentals every month. You get a free in-store rental when you return the online movie to a store.

My fiancee and I have the $9.99/1 movie plan and it's fantastic! They ship us a movie, we watch it, return it the store and get another one. By the time we've watched that one, a new one has showed up in the mail. And if we ever have a time where we want to rent but have no online to return, we just print out the coupons and go to the store to rent.

All this whining about BB's no late fees promotion is FUD. It was always clearly stated that there is a restocking fee if you return it more than 7 days late. Plus the restocking fee is about 25% of what the late fee would have been. I don't know about you, but $4.29 to get a brand new release for 9 days, or $5.62 to get it for 32 days, is not a bad deal at all




RE: BB Online is great!
By TomZ on 12/6/2006 11:59:00 AM , Rating: 2
1. Many Netflix users report getting their movies in 1 day, so 2-3 days doesn't sound so great

2. Blockbuster saying they have "no late fees," but then imposing a new "restocking fee" if it is more than 7 days late is not just deceptive, it is probably illegal (false advertising)


HD DVD rentals?
By ShrikantKumar on 12/6/2006 5:29:16 PM , Rating: 2
Does Netflix or Blockbuster online do HD DVD rentals?




RE: HD DVD rentals?
By luhar on 12/7/2006 10:55:29 AM , Rating: 2
Netflix does rent BD and HD-DVD, so they're probably ahead in that game.

I have to say that the main reason I started using netflix was browsability. Browsing in the store is never fun for me.

Another thing I had heard was that Blockbuster refused to carry movies that weren't in line with its corporate morale (not talking XXX movies...) Don't know if this is tru or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.


I'll Try It
By deeznuts on 12/5/2006 8:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot to drop my movies in the mail yesterday so I'm going to try out this netflix lable flap thing to get Pirates today, since there is a blockbuster by the gym. I love netflix and the convenience, the only thing being the hard to get new releases, if you don't time you returns right.




Too lazy to go
By borowki on 12/6/2006 2:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
I have the 3-at-a-time plan and already that's more movies than I can watch. Netflix seem to have improved their distribution network. My returns are typically credits the day after mailing. So the turn-around time is only around two, three days. See no reason to walk down the street when there're unwatched disc lying around.

A better promotion would be a movie credit per flap for their subscription plan, each of which allows you to check out one extra disc on top of your quota. Then I imagine a lot of people would switch.




to address a few things
By limestallc on 12/6/2006 12:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
BB doesn't advertise no late fees anymore, in fact they are very generous with the one week grace period because I don't know any non-subscription rental place that does that. Also with the delivery time it all depends on where you live around here netflix is 2-3 days at best but BBOnline is just 1 because the distro center is 10miles from my store. You cant really hold not having a whole lot of movies against a store because it can only hold so many titles but last I checked online has just as many as netflix plus you get the free ones in the store so if you go on tues or wed your almost guaranteed to get the new releases. If i were in the market for an online service I would try both to see which I like, BBOnline offers a free 2 weeks with a promo code from a store which is just the store number plus the letter b like mine is 29228b. So dont put down a service you haven't tried.




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