Blockbuster video has been getting quite a bit of publicity lately, but not the kind of publicity they might like. The movie rental chain seems to be on everyone’s list of big name businesses that will be closing soon. The experts tend to agree that Blockbuster has been on the way out for a while, largely due to the expanding movie rental business Netflix garners. They claim the downturn in the economy and subsequent reduction in movie rentals overall were just the nail in the coffin.
But Blockbuster isn’t ready to give up. They have recently revamped their business model and come up with some compelling reasons for patrons to continue to rent their movies.
If you are a big movie fan who has to see them as soon as they are released on video, Blockbuster is the way to go. Netflix will have to wait some weeks after their initial release before they will be able to send out new releases. For some movie lovers, that makes those releases no longer “new.” Blockbuster, on the other hand, will have the movie immediately, with their typical large numbers of copies available. This is a pretty big slap to Netflix. Although Netflix subscribers aren’t likely to end their memberships on this basis alone, it will probably get some of them into Blockbuster to pick up those new releases.
Another smack to Netflix is the availability of movies from the new Blockbuster through the web. If you go to your local store and can’t find the movie you are looking for, simply give them some basic information and it will show up in your mail. For people who don’t want to pay the monthly fee from Netflix, this is a good option that still allows them to get lesser known movies and get the great convenience of home delivery.
The other web connection for Blockbuster is watching on demand. This is the service that allows users to purchase a view of a movie and watch it on their computers. It requires surprisingly little time and effort to set up for such viewing and is a nice option because of its portability. Stuck in a motel room with no good tv? You can enjoy a movie from Blockbuster without even leaving the room. And you don’t have to worry about returning it. This is a feature Netflix has had for a while, and now those people who don’t want a monthly fee can have the same sort of access.
Although Netflix comes up a lot when discussing these changes, Blockbuster says that Netflix is not really their competition: the red box is. These are the boxes found at Walmart and McDonalds that have relatively few movies but apparently are very busy. Blockbuster has plans for their own version, a blue box, but there is no word yet about where they might be placed.
One of the other major changes Blockbuster has put into place is the return of late fees. While this move is not likely to win back customers, it is a logical change. Movie rental companies like Blockbuster that have storefront costs that places like Netflix don’t have to worry about need to get the extra revenue somewhere. Late fees seem like a logical place.
The majority of Blockbuster’s new ideas should help them win back customers at least on an occasional basis, and if the return of late fees also helps them survive in today’s market, then they should keep such fees in place. They are still certainly struggling to make it, but they are putting up a very good fight.