Thursday, December 07, 2006


When winter comes Mrs Contendere and I like to settle in on these dark, cold nights and watch movies. It's just so pleasant to get a crackling fire going in the fireplace, set out a bowl of good popcorn and get into a flick while the rain pounds and the wind howls.

I've been a fan of online rentals for a couple of years. It's simply the best value for your money, especially if you like classic films that aren't carried by your local rental shops, which mostly have new releases. The two online rental giants are Blockbuster and Netflix with a bunch of smaller outfits. With no late fees and free postage back and forth, it can come out to less than a dollar a movie if you watch a bunch per month. The only problem was the lag time using snail mail.

Last year war broke out between BB and NF. NF dropped their monthly price for three movies out at a time to undercut BB by $3 and vowed to crush BB. I switched over to NF because of the cheaper price and the fact NF had so many distribution centers which meant faster turnaround. Their website is also very advanced and easy to use. They started pulling away from the competition. Netflix was everywhere online and looked like the winner.

Until about a month ago. I have to hand it to Blockbuster - they understood the problem and responded well. Since just about everybody is in easy driving distance to ubiquitous BB stores they decided to use them as drop off centers. You take your online rental in, they scan it to alert the distribution center to mail you your next pick on your online list, plus you use the drop off movie to get a free in store rental. In essence you get six titles out at one time. Plus your account gives you two free rentals from the store per month. The only drawback could be that individual BB stores might have crappy inventories.

From a marketing viewpoint what they did was sharp and bold or completely insane. It'll be interesting to see how Netflix responds. Pass the popcorn.


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