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 →
We haven’t really covered Blockbuster’s DVD-by-mail service since this past March when a string of policy changes finally culminated in our exclusive scoop covering the elimination of Total Access’ one competitive edge over Netflix — the ability of subscribers to enjoy their free in-store rentals while they awaited new DVDs to be delivered by mail. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones appalled by the move. The following is pulled from the company’s latest 10-Q filing:
a $40.7 million decrease in by-mail revenues driven by a 34% average decline in by-mail subscribers”
So, in a single quarter, Blockbuster reveals that it shed 34 percent of its by-mail subscribers and the hejira resulted in a $40.7 million decline in by-mail revenue. Ouch. The prior quarter was no different, and Blockbuster has seen a $76.3 million total decline in by-mail revenue over the half. Time to switch things up, fellas.
[Via Zatz Not Funny!]
We’ve long since given up on Blockbuster and the debacle that is Total Access. As the company continues to struggle with the evolving home entertainment industry, Blockbuster repeatedly reminds us all that it just doesn’t get it. That won’t stop it from trying though. According to the Wall Street Journal, Blockbuster will finally begin piloting the addition of video games to its through-the-mail movie rental service sometime in June — the goal will still be to launch the service nationally in 2H of this year. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumblings of video games being added to the pot but apparently it took a bit longer than expected to get the pilot rolling. Still no word on how video game packages will be priced or whether the half-price in-store game rentals will indeed be part of the offer, but to be honest we don’t really care. The Blockbuster ship has already sailed as far as we’re concerned.
Ahhh Blockbuster. As rumors of a possible bankruptcy filing for the movie rental giant swarm throughout the blogosphere, we’ve learned of a new policy change for Blockbuster’s Total Access program that may help the company finally concede victory to Netflix and the barrage of streaming video options currently available. For those who are unaware of the service, Total Access is Blockbuster’s movies-by-mail service that competes directly with Netflix. Queue desired rentals online, receive between one and three movies at a time through the mail and then each time you send a movie back, you’ll receive the next one on your queue to replace it.
Forgetting the fact that Netflix also allows you to stream thousands of not-so-current movies online for free, the one advantage Total Access had over Netflix was the ability for customers to hand mailed movies over to any Blockbuster location in exchange for free in-store movie rentals. The Blockbuster location would then mail your movies back and you could enjoy your in-store rentals as you wait for new flicks to arrive by mail. Long story short, Total Access subscribers have movies on hand at all times, unlike Netflix subscribers who must wait between two and five days for their new flicks to arrive. It’s actually a pretty sweet deal — or “was” as the case may be. The following excerpt from Blockbuster’s Total Access terms and conditions reveals the company is quietly doing away with its leg-up, basically leaving Netflix ahead of the game in every conceivable way:
As much fun as it is to bash the top of your DVD player each of the 135 times your Total Access movie skips during playback, Blockbuster has apparently decided to get serious about movie downloads – sort of. Back in November, Blockbuster finally announced its first set top box offering, allowing users to purchase OnDemand movies on a pay-per-view basis. Yay. Blockbuster’s set top offering, shall we say, hasn’t quite been greeted with open arms, nor has the PC-based download service available on blockbuster.com. That won’t stop the stumbling giant from moving forward and exploring new ways to stay relevant of course, and its latest move is just that. CinemaNow, a movie download service that continues to expand, will now be Blockbuster-branded. While this will make movies bearing the Blockbuster logo available on a new range of devices, it does little to advance Blockbuster in the digital realm – instead, the move simply slaps a more recognizable brand on the CinemaNow service. Offerings are still pay-per-view with titles available to rent or buy, and pricing will remain the same. Blockbuster Chairman Jim Keyes claims that the company is currently examining subscription options but stated nothing finite. Netflix, on the other hand, still offers unlimited movie downloads to all subscribers with a monthly DVD-via-mail plan of $8.99 or higher.