Archives For DVD

This week in Department of the Obvious, we find Blockbuster filing for bankruptcy. The only possible surprise is that it took this long. As chapter 11 was the inevitable outcome after failing to modernize their operation quickly enough and, in my experience, providing years of poor customer service. Fortunately, for them, they intend to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings having shed a ton of debt and still in business. As I tweeted yesterday, “The smart moves for Blockbuster are to shutter stores & double down on kiosks.” They’ve got a well-known, if sullied, brand and should work additional licensing deals to preserve their legacy and the business. Whatever that business turns out to be.

And on the other end of the spectrum… Netlflix, who has done a rather masterful job navigating these uncharted waters, confirmed the obvious: “We are looking at adding a streaming-only option for the USA over the coming months.” No surprise there — Netflix has repeatedly stated they expect digital video streaming usage to continue increasing, as shipments of physical DVDs ultimately decrease. The only challenge they’ll have is pricing such a service. Right now, the $9/mo single disc rental package includes unlimited online playback. And I can’t imagine they could take a digital-only package much lower. For comparison, the new discless Canadian subscription runs $8/month CAD. Unfortunately, at these price points, I fear we’ll continue to miss out on premium new releases.

Within a few days of Redbox announcing Blu-ray rental availability from their nationwide network of kiosks, I swung by for confirmation. And, as it turned out, their press release was overly optimistic — neither Blu-ray title availability or even a category in the UI was found at my closest outpost (MickeyD’s). But when Engadget was tipped that Blu-ray rentals have started turning up (for real), I once again braved smells of the worst hamburgers in America to discover the truth. Low and behold, this particular Redbox now contains three lonely Blu-ray titles renting at the expected $1.50/nt rate.

While I’m not much into physical media rentals these days, there’s no question a lot of people appreciate movie rental kiosks. With their growing retal footprint (CVS is next) and absence of a surly staff, I quite imagine their success has been hastening the end of the brick & mortar video store.

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Blockbuster as we know it may or may not survive 2010, but that hasn’t prevented them from re-enabling mail order game rentals. As I’m currently on a Gamefly hiatus, a company that I’ve had a like/hate relationship with, I figured I’d check out Blockbuster’s combined DVD+gaming snail mail service which starts at a low $8.99/mo — about 45% less than Gamefly’s single disc plan. And, of course, you’re not limited to games.

I sold my copy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 months ago, after clocking way too many multiplayer hours and growing bored. But figured it might be time to brush up my skills a bit in preparation for Black Ops (11/10). Not to mention, a pal’s pre-teen thinks he can take me. And, while he probably can, I’m easily baited. Bring it, punk. So I added CoD: MW2 to my queue.

Unfortunately, the game was initially listed as having up to a 2 week wait due to low inventory. Upon checking my queue the next day, the delay had grown to 2-4 weeks. Which exceeded Blockbuster’s 2-week free trial – I fully expected to cancel service before anything arrived, due to my need for instant gratification and short attention span. Fortunately, the game showed only about a week after requesting it. For comparison, at its best, Gamefly took about a week to get a disc out to me.

Interestingly, not only is Blockbuster’s mailer smaller than Gamefly’s cardboard sleeve (which has been problematic), they’re also more compact than Netflix’s.

While Netflix shifts their focus to online streaming, Comcast (?!) and Blockbuster have teamed to provide DVDs By Mail — a soon-to-be-archaic method of content distribution and quintuply befuddling given Comcast’s large data conduit into millions of customer’s homes. I assume DVDs By Mail is primarily a marketing arrangement on Comcast’s end and potentially good for Blockbuster, who has been living on borrowed time – with imminent bankruptcy proceedings? (Put a fork in ‘em.) Netflix does anticipate their DVD shipments will peak in 2013 (or sooner). So there could be a small window of opportunity to capitalize on here… although I don’t see it happening.

(via HackingNetflix)


I’ve been critical of DivX’s efforts to woo Hollywood in the past, but I’ve also got to give them credit for a win when I see one and I think they knocked it out of the park when it comes to Paramount.

Recently, Paramount announced that they were going to be distributing content on USB sticks. At the time, they didn’t say what format it would be in and even on DivX’s conference call there was no mention of this realization of their strategic vision, but Electric Pig reports the Paramount movies will in fact be encoded in DivX.

With only 20,000 memory sticks for sale and at a price of approximately $33 US, Paramount is still clearly in the testing phase. But the fact that they choose DivX demonstrates the clear advantage that DivX has over all of their other digital competitors and have the only real solution for brick and mortar retailers.

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