Following bankruptcy and an ensuing acquisition at auction, Blockbuster is now trying to lure back the hordes of customers it lost to competitors like Redbox and Netflix. A BGR reader sent us a letter that Blockbuster is circulating to recent defectors in an effort to win back their business in a post-Dish Network world. Among the carrots Blockbuster is currently dangling are a free 30-day Total Access trial and a “special rate,” though that special rate is not disclosed in the email. Blockbuster’s Total Access service was created as a direct response to Netflix, offering DVD rentals by mail just as Netflix does, though Blockbuster’s option is now more affordable following Netflix’s price hikes. Of course Total Access used to be a much more attractive option than it is in its current state, but the lower pricing and the quicker availability of new titles could be attractive benefits over rival Netflix. Blockbuster’s letter to former Total Access customers can be found below. More →
Netflix announced two new unlimited DVD plans on Tuesday, including a $7.99 option for one DVD at a time and an $11.99 option that allows users to rent two DVDs at a time. The company also said that it will discontinue its current $9.99 monthly option that provides access to unlimited DVD rentals and unlimited instant streaming each month. Instead, the movie rental service will charge users $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming and a minimum of $7.99 per month for unlimited DVDs (with one rented out at a time at that rate). Essentially, that means users with the current $9.99 offering will instead have to cough up $15.98 per month in order to maintain their current subscription plan. “Reflecting our confidence that DVDs by mail is a long-term business for us, we are also establishing a separate and distinct management team solely focused on DVDs by mail, led by Andy Rendich, our Chief Service and Operations Officer and an 11 year veteran of Netflix,” the company said in a blog post. Netflix’s current plans will expire in September, and users will need to switch to a new plan by that time. More →
A staggering $1.85 billion was spent on video game content outside of physical video and PC game hardware and software in the U.S. during the first quarter. The number represents just over 31% of total spending on video games in the U.S., which came in at $5.9 billion in the first quarter of 2011. The impressive stat is noted by The NPD Group in its latest Games Industry: Total Consumer Spend report, which includes used game purchases, game rentals, subscriptions, digital full-game downloads, social network games, downloadable content and mobile games in this emerging category. The firm notes that physical retail channels still accounted for the the majority of industry sales in the first quarter, but the fact that these newer gaming channels such as social gaming and mobile gaming have grown to encompass nearly a third of the U.S. gaming industry so quickly speaks volumes to where gaming might be headed in the future. The NPD Group’s full press release follows below. More →
Redbox on Friday added game rentals to its arsenal at rental kiosks across the country. Video game rentals had previously been available for some time at approximately 5,000 Redbox kiosks spread throughout the U.S. in a beta phase. Now, Redbox is adding video games to another 16,000 kiosks this month, though it is not clear if or when Redbox plans to add games to the remaining 6,000 kiosks it owns and operates. Popular video game titles for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii consoles will cost $2 per day to rent, and the procedure works just like movie rentals — titles can be rented indefinitely and Redbox will keep charging its daily rate until the title is returned. If a title is kept for 25 days, a one-time fee is charged ($25 for DVDs, $34.50 for Blu-ray Discs and $50 for video games) and the disc no longer needs to be returned. More →
Unlike Amazon and Google who launched half-baked cloud storage services for music, it’s going to be Apple that shows the world how something is done properly once again, it seems. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple has finally struck deals with the four major recording companies in addition to movie studios:
Apple Inc. has reached terms with major recorded-music companies to allow it to launch a digital locker service that would be more robust than those currently offered by Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
According to these people, deals with three labels have been completed, and the fourth, with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, is likely to be signed this week. Apple has signed deals with Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Group Ltd.
Add that on to a CNET report that Apple executives were all over film studios for more than a year, and it sure looks like iCloud won’t be just a simple MP3 locker, but a robust service that combines all kinds of multimedia, and most likely, social and location-aware elements as well, tied tightly into iOS 5. More →
It was only a matter of time before Apple jumped on the HD bus and sure enough, iTunes users will now have access to a shiny new catalog of HD movie content. Starting immediately, a preliminary catalog of HD movies is available and accessible from within a new HD Movies page in iTunes. Films available to buy or rent in HD will also offer the option to do so on the standard movie page. Surprisingly and very disappointingly, it looks like HD content will be delivered at 720p for the time being as opposed to full HD. Hmm. New HD movies will run $19.99 for a purchase and $4.99 for a rental within the first 30 days of release. Older titles can be rented in HD for $3.99 a pop.
Come on Blockbuster, all the cool kids are doing it. Almost a year since announcing the acquisition of video download service Movielink, it looks like Blockbuster is finally getting ready to round out its portfolio with a download service of its own. No there still isn’t anything new with regards to the Blockbuster set top box many have been eagerly awaiting, but we’ll get there. In the meantime word on the street is that Blockbuster downloads should go live some time next month. A handful of Total Access members are currently beta testing the new service and so far it looks like everything is in order. Blockbuster will offer movie and TV show downloads for both rental and for purchase, though the number of available titles at the time of launch is still unknown. Whether or not the rental portion of the service will come with added fees attached is also still up in the air but we have to wage a guess that at least the upper-tier subscribers will have access at no charge. In light of the fact that Netflix and Microsoft’s partnership to stream content to Xbox 360 will be available soon enough, Blockbuster is going to have to do everything it can to make its new digital offering appealing.