Blockbuster vs Netflix vs Redbox ~ News, Politics and Anything Else I Want to Say

Monday, December 24, 2007

Blockbuster vs Netflix vs Redbox

My wife and I seldom rent from Blockbuster anymore. We have always found it hard to stomach paying ~$5 to rent a movie. For 2x - 3x the rental price we could own the movie so we may as well buy it!

A year or so ago, we tried Blockbuster Online for a few months. This was before the days of in-store trade ins. We did have the 2 free in-store monthly rental coupons. Back then I really liked the plan but we got busy and we really felt like we were not getting our money's worth so we canceled our plan.

I've always thought that Blockbuster has a much better offering than their main competitor and mail order DVD rental pioneer Netfilx. Being able to get movies from one of the over 5,100 stores nationwide in addition to movies by the mail allows you to grab a movie on a whim. Netflix offers video downloads which potentially could be great but I think it is still a little too early for that technology. People can't watch downloaded movies in the same environment or as easily as a DVD. I think downloads will be an advantage for Netflix in the future. Much of Blockbuster's advantage got thrown out the door just last week though when Blockbuster Online raised prices. This price increase has really pissed some Blockbuster (and now former) customers off. I don't blame them.

Blockbuster took very reasonable and competitive prices and made them non competitive. I looked at prices tonight at both Blockbuster and Netflix. The current Blockbuster's mail only prices are all the same as Netflix prices and the in-store trade in plans are only $1 more a month. The new prices, although only $3 more a month, still is enough to piss off existing customer. This is on top of a previous reduction from unlimited in-store trade ins.

I really would like to support Netflix for being the company that kicked off subscription DVD rental and forcing Blockbuster to offer a similar and competitive offering. I still don't feel like we would use either service enough to be worth our money though. My wife is in grad school and busy, busy, busy!

We have been renting a lot more movies recently though. A few months back we discovered RedBox at our local Harris Teeter. I have read that there are a bunch of these kiosks at McDonald's too but not in our area. With RedBox you can rent new and slightly less new movie releases for $1 per night (+ tax). How can you go wrong with this model? While shopping for groceries we can just pick something up or if looking for a movie we can grab some snacks. If it is a terrible movie, we've only spent $1 instead of ~$5 and I can at least say I have seen it. The RedBox kiosk is also right across the street from Blockbuster so it is no more or less convenient than going to Blockbuster.

If we liked the movie a lot or don't get to watch it that night for some reason, we can keep it for another day for only $1 more. The return time is always 9pm the next day, regardless of when you rent it on the previous day (it used to be 7pm). You can also return the DVD to any kiosk location, an ability I have taken advantage of several times now. If for some reason we are irresponsible and loose it, we'll end up paying $25 total. Not great but not crazy like the old fee system Blockbuster screwed customers over with.

A friend of mine has pointed out one issue with their model but it doesn't apply to my viewing habits and I wonder if he is not the exception or has just been trained by the Blockbuster model (he is also a current Blockbuster Online subscriber). When he rents a movie, he doens't always watch it that night. He generally doesn't get to watching it for a few days. My wife and I always rent a movie with every intention of watching it that very day.

We have had some problems with availability, especially of the newest releases. There is also the issue that the kiosk can only hold but so many different movies. You can't go to a RedBox kiosk expecting to rent Half Baked or some classic movie like that but you will likely find a movie or 2 that you want to see, at least for a dollar.

The other beauty of RedBox is the cost. I've recently rented Shooter which I doubt I would have ever watched but turned out to love. I also rented Transformers this weekend which I considered buying but for only a $1, I now know I don't want to watch it again (the special effects were great, the story line and dialog was NOT, and since when does an Aussie with a super cute accent work for the the DOD at such a high level she can sneak into a meeting with the Secretary of Defense?).

So my conclusion is RedBox wins! Blockbuster and Netflix offer great services that RedBox doesn't fill the need for (older movies, TV series rental, etc.) so I don't think they are without value, just not the best method for my rental habits. Look for a RedBox near you and use some free codes for a free movie from time to time (these codes work oncer per credit card I think, depending on the code) from here, here and here.

1 comment:

jesus2.lopez said...

Despite what others may think, I think Blockbuster is the best choice right now. Along with the thousands of movies for only 99 cents, Blockbuster has launched a single day pricing that lets you decide how long you want to keep the movie. Also, just released movies are only $2.99 and Blockbuster gets new releases 28 days before Netflix and Redbox. As a DISH Network customer/employee, I know that if you make the switch to DISH you can get Blockbuster for 3 months free.