Technologizer posts about Blockbuster

Blockbuster’s New Service Isn’t a Qwikster Killer. At Least Not Yet.

By  |  Posted at 11:04 am on Friday, September 23, 2011

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I just attended a press conference hosted by Dish Network and its Blockbuster division, where they announced Blockbuster Movie Pass, a service with discs-by-mail (including Blu-Ray and games at no extra charge), unlimited on-demand streaming to TVs and PCs, and more–for $10 a month. Sounds like a formidable competitor to the service formerly known as Netflix, which is about to be divvied into Netflix and Qwikster. Except it turns out that Dish isn’t announcing anything aimed at consumers who have cable or who want to cut the cord–Movie Pass is for Dish subscribers (and includes twenty channels of live movie programming via satellite as well as its other stuff).

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Sorry, Blockbuster, It Doesn’t Sound Like You’re Rescuing Netflix Customers to Me

By  |  Posted at 2:37 am on Friday, July 15, 2011

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It isn’t easy being Blockbuster. When the company’s in the news, the news is usually lousy–like in September of last year, when the once-mighty video rental chain went bankrupt.

This, however, has been a good week for Blockbuster. Sort of. At least if you assume that a bad week for Netflix is automatically a good one for Blockbuster.

Blockbuster seems to think so. After Netflix ticked off customers by raising the cost of subscribing to plans that include both streaming and DVDs-by-mail, Blockbuster issued a press release which it titled “Blockbuster Rescues Furious Netflix Customers.” Oozing schadenfreude, it quoted Blockbuster’s president saying that Netflix’s price hikes were “shocking” and pointed out some advantages of Blockbuster over Netflix, including Blu-Ray rentals at no extra cost, the availability of game rentals, the ability to return discs to a brick-and-mortar Blockbuster location, and no 28-day delay before new titles arrive.

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Dish Network Buys Itself a Bankrupt Chain of Movie Rental Stores

By  |  Posted at 8:36 am on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

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Satellite TV provider Dish Network wants to become satellite TV and video-rental retailer Dish Network. It announced today that its bid of $320 million ($228 million in cash) was enough to win the auction to buy Blockbuster, the venerable, ailing video chain that went bankrupt last September. Assuming that the sale goes through, Dish will get itself 1700 stores and other Blockbuster properties, such as its on-demand services for PCs, phones, and set-top boxes.

Dish’s statement was optimistic, but cautiously so:

“With its more than 1,700 store locations, a highly recognizable brand and multiple methods of delivery, Blockbuster will complement our existing video offerings while presenting cross-marketing and service extension opportunities for DISHNetwork,” said Tom Cullen, executive vice president of Sales, Marketing and Programming for DISH Network. “While Blockbuster’s business faces significant challenges, we look forward to working with its employees to re-establish Blockbuster’s brand as a leader in video entertainment.”

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A Brief YouTube History of Blockbuster

By  |  Posted at 11:26 am on Thursday, September 23, 2010

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With the news of Blockbuster’s bankruptcy, I’m wallowing in Blockbuster nostalgia. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure it’s a temporary condition. But after the jump, a few vintage Blockbuster TV ads–get ready to see lots of shelves packed with VHS tapes in bulky boxes…

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Blockbuster Goes Bust (Surprise!)

By  |  Posted at 10:45 am on Thursday, September 23, 2010

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Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy.  The company is staying in business and apparently doesn’t plan to shut down any stores at the moment, but the fact that it’s in deep trouble does not exactly come as a gigantic surprise. Between Netflix DVDs-by-mail and Redbox kiosks and various streaming and download services and cable-TV on-demand services, the whole concept of driving to a large store to rent a movie on a shiny disc is an inherently antiquated concept.

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On second thought, Blockbuster’s game-and-movie mail-order plan seems a little shaky if the rental chain is really about to file for bankruptcy, as analysts predict.

Posted by Jared at 8:58 am

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Blockbuster Guns for Gamefly’s Turf

By  |  Posted at 1:58 pm on Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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Blockbuster is finally taking its mail-order game rental service nationwide, and I’d be a little more excited if the pitch wasn’t slightly misleading.

On Blockbuster’s website, the movie and game mail-order service seems like a knockout. For $9 per month, you can rent one disc at at time. That’s the same price as Netflix, and although there’s no streaming video, you can rent video games and Blu-ray discs for no extra charge. Two discs per month costs $14, and three discs costs $17.

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Salon’s Matt Zoller Seitz writes an only slightly premature eulogy for Blockbuster.

Posted by Harry at 12:05 am

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Blockbuster’s Still Working On Those Game Rentals

By  |  Posted at 6:53 pm on Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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I had a touch of déjà vu today after reading that Blockbuster is testing a mail-order video game rental program in Cleveland, with plans for a nationwide rollout before year-end. That’s because 14 months ago, Blockbuster was telling essentially the same story.

It’s not clear what happened. Did the pilot program die and come back to life, or is testing just taking a lot longer than planned? Whatever the case, you still have to be a mail-order movie subscriber to rent games, but the pricing has changed. It’s now $7.99 plus tax for every month you rent a game, instead of $5. You can only rent one game at a time, and it counts towards your allotted number of movie rentals.

Blockbuster’s plan would be more enticing if you could take out games from the store, but only exchanges are allowed, and they cost $4.99 for each new game you take out (exchanges for movies cost less, depending on your rental plan). I’m guessing Blockbuster’s financial troubles make it harder to offer big bargains.

Looking over my coverage from February 2009, it’s funny how I said it would take significant savings to pull me away from GameFly. Cut to the present, and I’m thinking about ditching mail-order game rentals altogether. Too often, I’ve tried to get the newest releases from GameFly, and waited weeks for availability. Even months-old games take a little while to ship.

Mail-order game rentals don’t work when you’re trying to play the next big thing. There are only a few top-tier games that come out every month, and everybody wants them. Rarely is there an off-the-beaten-path game (like the equivalent of an art-house flick) that no one’s waiting for, so you stand in line with everyone else. Unless Blockbuster figures out a solution to that problem, its system won’t fare much better than the competition.



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A Path to Save Blockbuster?

By  |  Posted at 9:50 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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Is copying Redbox’s strategy a way for Blockbuster to survive? I’m beginning to think so.

Earlier this week, I rented from a Redbox for the first time. I have walked by these kiosks in our area for well over a year now, and in recent months they’ve become quite numerous — Redbox lists 19 of them within 10 miles of my house alone. The allure of a movie for just a buck a night is just too good of a deal to pass up.

While entering my selections into the kiosk — Star Trek and Angels & Demons — I couldn’t help but wonder why Blockbuster wasn’t doing the same thing. Heck, it costs you $5 to rent these same movies at their stores no matter whether you return them the next day or however long your local store allows the movies to be out.

It’s for this reason why Blockbuster is struggling. In this new world, it no longer is worthwhile to have a storefront because of the overhead costs. Think about it. Netflix has considerably less infrastructure costs because all its business is online and only needs shipping warehouses to serve its customers; Redbox has even less overhead since it essentially freeloads off the locations where its kiosks sit.

There’s just no way that the company can be on a level playing field with its competitors because of this. Tuesday’s news of the company partnering with NCR to place 200 “Blockbuster Express” kiosks in Duane Reade Drugstores across New York City could arguably be Blockbuster’s path to salvation.

When the company is done, about 2,500 kiosks will be up and running around the country. Each will hold about 900 DVDs, which will give the movie retailer an opportunity to offer a wider selection than that of Redbox, which can only hold about 500 discs.

As the company moves to this system, it will allow Blockbuster to continue closing down its retail locations, which have become its Achilles heel. This will stink for those employees that could soon find themselves out of a job, but its just a reality of our modern digital economy.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how Redbox responds. Blockbuster eliminated its competition by simply being able to offer a broader selection of movies than its smaller competitors, and now the company that arguably pioneered the movie rental kiosk finds itself in the same situation.

One thing it has so far as an advantage over Blockbuster is scale — some 17,500 kiosks are located in McDonald’s, Wal Marts, Walgreens, and other grocery and drug stores around the country. Blockbuster will need to quickly ramp up to legitimately compete.



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A Blockbuster Deal for Motorola

By  |  Posted at 12:32 pm on Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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blockbusterSelect Motorola phones will gain the ability to stream “thousands” of movies to their devices from Blockbuster’s OnDemand video service under terms of a deal announced on Tuesday. An OnDemand application would be preloaded onto these phones from the factory.

Details are rather scant, and it is unclear at this time exactly which models would gain the new feature. Consumers would have the choice to either rent or purchase titles outright from Blockbuster.

The deal is potentially a very positive one for the movie retailer, considering the bruising battle with Netflix that left it in poor financial shape and near to bankruptcy. If successful, it would add a much-needed revenue stream and put the company ahead of competitors in a still largely-untapped market here in the US.

Blockbuster had made it a priority earlier this year to expand its reach to as many devices as possible. It appears that the service would be available regardless of cellular provider as it is a Motorola-offered feature.



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Blockbuster–R.I.P.?

By  |  Posted at 9:27 pm on Monday, April 6, 2009

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blockbusterThe death knell may be ringing for Blockbuster. Today the video-rental giant admitted that if it cannot complete the financing deals that it is currently working on, there is a good chance the company may be forced to shut its doors. While the company last week said it was in the process of getting a $250 million revolving loan from creditors, that may be in jeopardy.

Why? The loan apparently has some conditions to it, and Blockbuster is now not sure it can meet them. Even worse, whether the loan goes through are not, it is not even sure that would be enough to save the company.

During my days at BetaNews, I always seemed to get the Netflix vs. Blockbuster stories and the pricing war and war of words that went on between the two. I can tell you from what I wrote during that period that Blockbuster’s financial problems stem from that fight.

Neither side was willing to lay off, and both put out lots of money to one up the other through promotions, advertising, and the like. Even more, the pricing war that went on between the two cut into each company’s revenues. While Netflix is still going, it too was bruised financially by the fight.

(It’s probably fair to say Netflix’s lack of overhead is why its wounds were less deep.)

I sure hope that Blockbuster can find a way out of this mess, but it could be a victim of the changing face of how we consume media just like the newspaper industry. I guess time will tell.



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TiVo Gets a Blockbuster Card

By  |  Posted at 9:15 am on Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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tivoblockbusterBlockbuster, the video rental giant that’s trying to figure out a role for itself in a world of digital downloads, has struck a deal that should help: Its Blockbuster OnDemand service will be offered on TiVo DVRs. TiVo owners will be able to rent and buy movies from a selection of 5,000 to 10,000 titles (including new major studio releases, but nothing from Disney), with prices typically ranging from $4 to $10.

Blockbuster will also start selling TiVos in its stores, helping its customers make the inevitable transition from driving to the video store to choosing movies via remote control.

The deal adds yet another video provider to TiVo’s already well-rounded list: The TiVo HD in my living room already offers Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Video on Demand, Jaman, Disney releases via CinemaNow, and more. Each one’s a bit different in its scope and focus–Netflix, for instance, offers all-you-can-watch pricing but doesn’t have major new releases; Amazon has a ton of stuff, but each item is priced separately; Jaman specializes in international films.

The experience is a little disjointed–each provider has a separate interface, so it’s a little like visiting a mall with multiple video stores rather than one giant store–and TiVo needs more high-definition content. (It should get that once Amazon launches HD titles.) But TiVo’s doing a good job of giving folks reasons to buy a box that go beyond recording cable TV–which is essential to its future, since it’s competing with renting a cheap DVR from your cable company.

As I said in the piece on Internet TV boxes I just wrote for PC World, I’d much rather have one multi-purpose box in my living room than a bunch of specialty ones. There’s no one Ultimate Universal Box yet, but TiVo’s doing enough to keep me from buying and finding space for something like a Vudu or Roku box. But if you know of anyone who makes a cable-ready DVR/DVD/media streamer that also plays Wii games and can replace a Slingbox, please lemme know…



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