Blockbuster has had a miserable couple of years, closing thousands of movie rental stores, entering bankruptcy, and generally serving as one of the recession era’s biggest business flop stories. Now, though, as Netflix and Redbox—the movie-rental competitors that helped put Blockbuster on the ropes—are raising prices, Blockbuster sees an opening to get back in the game and snag some of the competition’s disgruntled customer base.
Blockbuster is not being remotely subtle in its play to win over Netflix and Redbox customers. Go to the Blockbuster website and you’re greeted with a pop-up screen offering a free 30-day trial for Blockbuster Total Access, a DVD-by-mail service similar to that of Netflix. Some companies shy away from mentioning competitors by name. Not Blockbuster. The new come-ons prominently state that “Netflix Raised Prices By 60%,” and highlights the fact that “Many new releases available 28 days before Netflix and Redbox.”
Soon after Redbox announced its DVD rentals would go from $1 to $1.20 per day, Blockbuster sent out this Tweet:
First Netflix raises prices, now Redbox has you seeing red again! Blockbuster has thousands of movies for just 99¢/day.
Note that not all Blockbuster rentals are 99¢. New releases rented from stores generally go for $2.99; only movies that have been out for at least one year are available for 99¢.
But back to Blockbuster’s customer-stealing strategies: A month ago, Blockbuster and its new parent company, Dish Network, also introduced a new streaming service that directly competes with Netflix. Throughout the press conference announcing the new service, executives compared their products with Netflix left and right.
My, my, how things have changed. In 2008, the then-CEO of Blockbuster was quoted as saying:
“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition”