Netflix Beat Blockbuster But Now Faces Stiffer Competition

Last week’s news about Blockbuster filing bankruptcy came as no surprise, since the once popular rental business has been in financial distress for quite some time. Between Netflix and Redbox, Blockbuster no longer could compete nor match the efficiency that the competition was offering. People were tired of not having rentals available, but more important, having to race back to the store to drop off the rented disk. The latest competition is going to be from Apple, Google, Amazon and others who are going to compete with Netflix in the lucrative streaming movies over the Internet.

In a recent article it states that:

Netflix has raced to become ubiquitous. In addition to PCs, more than 100 types of devices can stream Netflix movies to a TV, including game consoles and Internet TV set-top boxes like Roku and AppleTV. The company says 61 percent of its 15 million subscribers streamed movies in the second quarter.

The weakness of the streaming service is movie selection. Netflix’s catalog of 20,000 streaming movies does not include many recent Hollywood hits because Netflix has been unable to negotiate rights from all the studios. Netflix has about five times as many titles in its DVD catalog.

Many of the company’s studio deals require it to delay making titles available — either on DVD or online — until they have been on store shelves for 28 days. For example, “Robin Hood,” starring Russell Crowe, is available to stream on Amazon but will not be available on Netflix until Oct. 19. Hulu Plus has the current season of “The Office,” while the most recent episodes on Netflix are from last season.

The industry is still very young, they said, and many companies are experimenting with business models and expanding their video libraries. Streaming requires less infrastructure and therefore has lower barriers to entry than a system built on sorting machines and distribution or even brick-and-mortar stores.

Though competition will keep pricing down for those consumers who choose to stream, it currently will make it difficult to select which service to use. As I have mentioned I have selected a Roku device to stream movies from Netflix, but I do not know how long Netflix will remain the leader in streaming. As with any new industry, it is going to be a few years before we know who the winner will be.

Competition against Netflix is going to be severe since the competition has a huge war chest of funds to fight with. Netflix appears to be the underdog.

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

The Death Of Blockbuster?

There should be an image here!As I read look at this image posted by the Consumerist, which depicts what the demise of Blockbuster looks like, I feel there are few things that were left out. First of all, where is Redbox? Second, Blockbuster is still very much intent on fighting Netflix and Redbox.

Now to be clear, I’d sooner dance naked in a mall food court singing show tunes than go to another Blockbuster. Why? Simple: DVDs and Blu-ray are either borrowed, “Netflixed,” or avoided completely via Amazon Unbox (HD movies) in this household.

Despite my own feelings on the company, there are some things to consider.

1) Blockbuster simply dealt with its debt — it’s not going anyplace… yet.

2) It is now going to be offering movies 28 days sooner than its competitors.

3) It has stores, its online services, and now kiosks like Redbox.

Now for the funny part. It’s too little, too late. While getting movies delivered 28 days sooner is enticing, sadly the combination of no one knowing this and the fact that its online movie services are not quite there yet mean this doesn’t really matter.

Worse, if Blockbuster had not taken advantage of its initial domination of the home movie realm, it might not be in this position now. At its peak, nothing but fees and headaches were being offered. It was expensive and made buying movies much more attractive.

It was given a golden ticket and, sadly, squandered it away into nothing as the newer, hipper companies came along and ate the mighty Blockbuster for breakfast. It’s simply another case of a company trying to do it all, without doing any of it well. I give Blockbuster three years before it is bankrupt for good.

[Photo above by Scott Clark / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Is Netflix Like The Little Engine That Could?

Over at Slate I just finished reading an interesting article about Netflix. I have been a loyal customer of Netflix for many years and have watched as it has improved its service in all areas. Customer service is top-notch and delivery of its movies via mail is just about flawless. I live in an area where Netflix has its own service center and delivery or returns are completed in one business day. When I have had any issues with a bad DVD, Netflix has immediately sent a replacement, even before the damaged disk is returned. Streaming now offers a great alternative for those wish to watch older movies and shows.

In the article it stated the following:

In 2005, Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, called Netflix “a worthless piece of crap with really nice people running it.” Today, that worthless piece of crap has a market capitalization of $6.4 billion. In early 2007, when Netflix first announced its plans to allow subscribers to stream videos instantly—rather than wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail—esteemed tech journalist Om Malik predicted that this move would “soon be relegated to the dustbin of failed ideas.” Netflix has more than doubled its subscriber base since then, and today nearly two-thirds of them use Netflix’s streaming video service.

While its critics were flailing away, the company has continued to grow steadily and spread its influence well beyond the red envelope. One of Netflix’s direct competitors, Blockbuster—which for years was supposed to put Netflix out of business—is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Netflix’s iPad app was widely deemed one of the best available when the device launched in April. And when Apple announced today that its new Apple TV service would stream movies and TV shows, Netflix content was front and center.

What is it about Netflix that causes critics to misread it so badly? Call it the innovator’s paradox: Netflix forged an identity by building a simple business—DVD delivery by mail—that had never been done before. The very fact that this DVD-by-mail idea connected so deeply with consumers led many observers to think that was all that Netflix could or would ever do. Instead, the DVD delivery service—while still vital to Netflix’s revenue—looks more like the Trojan horse of a much wider strategy designed to change how Americans watch filmed entertainment.

Netflix is one of those companies that I believe is under estimated and also under estimated. They will have to pry the DVD or Blu-ray disc from my dying hands before I give up using the service. Plus, I believe they offer real value for only $9 a month.

Comments welcome.

Source – Slate

Blockbuster Finally Catching Up To Redbox?

One has to wonder who in the heck actually bothers to visit a video store anymore. Honestly, the era of the video store largely died for me a few years ago. I am either doing Netflix, watching movies over the Roku with OneBox, or borrowing DVDs from friends. If I want to rent something, I am doing so from Redbox. The last place you will find me is at a Blockbuster store. Seriously, who is still using this?

Lucky for Blockbuster, it appears that it is finally coming out of the ’90s as its Netflix-like services are just not cutting it by themselves. No, there was clearly the need for some additional ideas to be at work. And hence, we now see Blockbuster taking on Redbox with something that could be seen as doing things the hard way.

Rather than providing something useful like a DVD or Blu-ray disc, Blockbuster is loading movies onto removable media such as SD cards. Yes, I am not kidding. Rather than seeing people purchasing or renting content on the iPhone with iTunes, this would allow other mobile phone users to rent movies.

Now for the reality check — who the hell is watching movies with their phones, much less using SD cards with them? A few years ago, sure. And yes, I might watch movies on my iPhone… but I am not entirely sure loading up content to a micro-media format is really the best approach here.

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Blockbuster To Rent Movies On SD Cards… I’ll Stick With Netflix!

It seems that Blockbuster, the once darling of the movie rental business, is really grabbing at straws. Ever since Netflix started to take off with low pricing of DVD rentals and streaming of on demand movies, Blockbuster has been playing second fiddle in the rental market. With Redbox renting movies at a buck a pop, this has added to the problem that Blockbuster is facing.

But in what can only be described as a last ditch effort for survival, Blockbuster is going to rent movies on SD Cards at $1.99 per rental. The thinking is that consumers who have card readers built into their TVs, which I personally have on my Panasonic Plasma set in the living room, can use the card media to watch movies with.  I also have card readers in my laptop computers so this may be an easy way to watch flicks on an airplane.

A recent article also states:

Other obstacles remain. Many phones use micro or mini SD cardslots, and don’t take full-sized SD cards. Many TVs still aren’t built to play video of SD media, and most laptops don’t have them either, meaning that watching an SD video on the road means taking a long a USB card reader. Another problem: not everyone will enjoy the irony of driving somewhere to pick up a data-card the size of a postage stamp. Still, SD cards do represent a marked improvement over DVDs in durability and re-usability, so if they caught on it’d hardly be a step backwards for movie buffs.

The SD kiosks themselves will be built and operated by NCR corporation, in partnership with MOD Systems. Blockbuster already employs a network of NCR-build kiosks for autonomous DVD rental.

So what do you think? Is Blockbuster on to something or is this a last attempt to stay afloat?

Comments welcome.


Do You Own A Sony PS3 ? Get Ready For Netflix Movie Streams!

While other companies like Blockbuster continue to have troubles in the movie rental business, Netflix continues to expand. In its latest offering, Netflix is going to be offering movie streams to owners of the popular Sony PS3 units. Current Netflix users with the $8.99 a month package for unlimited DVD rentals are automatically included in the movie stream currently being offered.

A recent article states:

Next month, the 9 million U.S. owners of Sony’s PlayStation 3 game consoles will have another entertainment option available to them: streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix.

The long-awaited announcement gives Netflix another distribution channel for its “Watch Instantly” service, which is already available via the Microsoft Xbox 360, a variety of Blu-ray players and HDTVs, TiVo and the Roku box.

Here is how it will work:

The PS3 implementation of Netflix is not the most elegant. PS3 owners will have to order a special, free disc from Netflix and pop it into their gaming console whenever they want to access the Netflix queue and watch a movie. Sony and Netflix seem to suggest this is a short-term solution, until an upgrade next year in the PS3 software.

It would appear that Netflix will continue to be the dominant force in the movie rental business along with Redbox outlets. As Netflix continues to expand its offerings there may come a time when we will be able to rent the latest DVD and Blu-ray disks online and have them streamed to our computers and TVs.

Comments as always are welcome.


ZillionTV Service – Will It Be Right For You?

ZillionTV has a plan that could change the way we watch television. The service, which is currently in its infancy, is making promises on how we will be able to watch TV by choosing the ads we want to see in order to have free service. There will also be an offering for a pay as you go service if you want to skip the advertisements.

The ZillionTV Web site states:

The Revolution Begins With You.

What is the ZillionTV™ Service? Whatever you want it to be. From professional sports to blockbuster movies, from favorite TV series to classic films — it’s at your fingertips. Our constantly expanding library of film and television programming will burst with the kind of entertainment you crave.

How can we do it? ZillionTV is working together with the top names in entertainment, including Disney, NBC, Universal, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, to completely change the way you watch TV — and you’ll never pay a subscription fee. Now, that’s revolutionary.

You choose the programs.

Yearning for cop dramas? Hunting for sci-fi thrillers? Need to watch the ’85 basketball finals twice weekly? Access the entertainment you want quickly and easily with our VUI™ Experience. Find exactly what you want to watch with intuitive search categories like actor, genre, and subject matter — even get suggestions based on your viewing history.

You choose how to watch.

With the ZillionTV™ Service, you make all the choices — right down to the ads. Want totally free programming? You found the right place. Customize the categories of ads you want to watch, and those are what you’ll see. Don’t want to see any ads at all? We can make that happen too with our “pay as you go” option. ZillionTV gives you total control.

The one thing you have to love about technology is that it is always changing. I recall the days when going to a Blockbuster store to rent a movie on VHS was revolutionary. Now Blockbuster is closing its doors at some 1,000 stores because they are not profitable. This makes one wonder how much Zillion TV will impact Netflix?

Comments as always are welcome.


Is Blockbuster Getting Ready To Shutter Their Doors?

There are some indications that the once popular Blockbuster may have to close down since it now appears that the company is unable to compete in a changing market place. The first indications that Blockbuster was getting into trouble was when Netflix started to cut their pricing, a move that Blockbuster had trouble matching. In an age where convenience counted, running around returning DVD rentals had meet its match by the convenience offered by Netflix of home delivery. 

But was this alone the cause of Blockbusters demise. Or was it just poor business decisions?

The death knell may be ringing for Blockbuster. Today the video-rental giant admitted that if it cannot complete the financing deals that it is currently working on, there is a good chance the company may be forced to shut its doors. While the company last week said it was in the process of getting a $250 million revolving loan from creditors, that may be in jeopardy.

Why? The loan apparently has some conditions to it, and Blockbuster is now not sure it can meet them. Even worse, whether the loan goes through are not, it is not even sure that would be enough to save the company.

I became a Netflix convert about four years ago. Not having to go to our local blockbuster, standing in line waiting to rent and having to return the movie was enough to convince me to make the switch. Netflix has been a reliable and inexpensive way to rent movies for myself and my family.

But what about you? Do you still rent movies at Blockbuster or other rental company or have you switched to Netflix?

Comments welcome.


Blockbuster Wants To Be Our OnDemand Video Retailer

Blockbuster has announced that the company has entered into a deal with TiVo to provide OnDemand Video’s to consumer. The #1 movie rental business is changing gears as consumers flock to the Internet to get their movie fix, instead of going to a brick and mortar store. The company is also looking into expanding their offerings into consumer electronics by offering TiVo DVRs, mobile phones, Blu-ray players, and other devices.

In an article from USA Today it further states that:

The alliance comes at an important time for both companies. Blockbuster shares have fallen about 80% over the last 12 months, to 73 cents, as consumer interest in DVDs has flagged.

TiVo shares have dropped only about 22% to $6.98. But it’s struggling to keep customers from switching to lower-priced DVRs offered by cable and satellite companies.

TiVo has 3.3 million subscriptions, its lowest number since 2005. The company hopes to turn that around by persuading cable and satellite providers to offer TiVo’s user interface on non-TiVo DVRs.

Meanwhile, TiVo is trying to make its own DVRs stand out by adding Internet video, including movies from Blockbuster rivals Amazon and Netflix.

Virtually everyone in home entertainment is jockeying for position, with spending for online and mobile videos poised to soar to nearly $1.4 billion in 2012 from about $321 million last year, according to merchant bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

TiVo wants to offer “a complete television experience,” says Tara Maitra, vice president of content and ad sales. Blockbuster’s movie selection will be similar to Amazon’s but different from Netflix’s, which she says “has fewer new releases.”

Will this new alliance between Blockbuster and TiVo be enough? I doubt it. They are competing against cable and satellite companies who already offer DVR for basically free. Netflix with their new video ondeand service is in place and ready to rock and roll.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


I Heart Movies

I love watching movies just like anyone else, but besides a few movies and television shows on DVD, my collection isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. While retail stores like Blockbuster may charge a ridiculous amount of money to rent a single DVD, there are other options. For example, there’s a self-serve kiosk in my area that enables me to rent a DVD for only $1 per day. In this case, renting makes sense for me, and unless the movie is something really special, I don’t need to purchase it on DVD. Of course, many of you have extensive DVD collections, and I Heart Movies will help you to organize them.

Not only can you use this service to record, rate, and share your DVD collection, but you’ll also be able to use it to keep track of who’s borrowed what from you. Film fanatics are a dedicated group of people, and this community is no different. You’ll find users that have added thousands of titles to their collections, and you’ll be able to discuss your passion for movies with them. If you’re interested in finding new movies or learning more about the ones that you’re already familiar with, then be sure to take the time to browse through I Heart Movies.

The End Of Blockbuster?

I distinctly remember when Blockbuster first moved into my old neighborhood. To say it was an unwelcome sight would have been an understatement to be sure. And as fate would have it, there seems to be a shift in the winds with regard to the movie rental giant.

Who would fill the void should Blockbuster finally collapse? Hollywood video perhaps? Doubtful, although Netflix has certainly taken Blockbuster to task over the years it seems.

What do you think? Could Blockbuster finally be looking at their final demise? Or instead, is this merely a signal that they will have to come back stronger and smarter than before? You be the judge, hit the comments and share your thoughts.
[tags]netflix, movies, blockbuster[/tags]


I’m a fan of movies, but even though that may be so, I don’t have anything close to a large collection of DVDs. Granted, I do own a few, but I usually opt to rent them instead of purchasing them. There are very few titles that I absolutely must have in my collection, so this rental approach works for me. Even though that may be so, I know people that have closets full of movies, and it seems like they’ve pretty much never seen a movie that they didn’t want to buy. For these people, it’s a lot harder to organize and manage their movies than it would be for someone like me, and that’s why they could use something like UTRACK Movies.

This online system enables you to enter and store information about your movie collection so that it can be accessed from anywhere that an Internet connection is present. Once again, if you have a small collection, this may not be a big deal to you, but for someone who lives for their movie collection, this is pretty cool. The search feature helps you to quickly find and add complete titles, but you can also add them manually if need be. One of the coolest things about UTRACK is that it can assist you with keeping track of who’s borrowed your precious movies, and the service can even send an automated e-mail message to them to let them know that they need to return what they’ve borrowed. Before you know it, you’ll be running your very own Blockbuster.

[tags]UTRACK Movies, UTRACK, Movies, DVD, Rent, Borrow, Blockbuster[/tags]

Are DVD’s Going the Way of The Video Cassette?

According to Josuha Freed of the Associated Press, DVD movies Are poised to follow music onto the Internet and to avoid the hurt that was felt with downloaded music retailers such as Wal-Mart have launched their own download movie sites. Retailers are concerned about this new technology because they have traditionally been able to use DVD sales to get customers into the store where they typically buy other items and since new DVDs are released each week there is always a reason for customers to return. Additionally, for stores like Best Buy and Circuit City DVDs are often an impulse buy rather than one those customers must contemplate like computers or TVs.

On a positive note for Consumers both DVDs and music CDs have seen a decrease in cost as especially music CDs have seen a rapid decrease in sales. According to Andrew Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities, DVDs would have seen a greater decline if it had not been for the recording and release of a number of TV serials, which are not down loadable, but the decline would likely be as great as it was for CDs in the future.

Out of the retailers who are selling DVD downloads Wal-Mart is at the head of the pack selling 3,000 movie downloads in the first month and Blockbuster according to Karen Raskopf, says the movie rental chain will join the download frenzy by the end of the year. However, all retailers admit that online movie downloads have a long way to go because their compressed files can be a hundred times larger than an individual song and a full length movie could take as long as an hour and a half to download even with a high speed connection. Another issue for the consumer who buys a downloadable movie is that they are often not burnable to a DVD and so the cost of something that must be stored and viewed on a computer may not be feasible. Poor Quality of the download is another point of contention among those who have taken advantage of this service.

One company,, seems to have come up with a possible solution to some of these issues, however, by offering downloadable movies that can be sent straight to your TIVO, and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox. Evan Wilson, who covers entertainment companies at Pacific Crest, says that the movie and television companies will eventually have all of their offering available at the click of a button. If this is the case I cannot help but wonder when this new technology will make this generation’s children laugh at the thought of having to drive to the store to pick up a piece of plastic to put in a machine in order to view a movie.  

[tags]DVD Movies, Downloadable movies, Wal-Mart downloadable services, Blockbuster, Circuit City, Best Buy, Music CDs,[/tags]