July 15, 2011 / 2:36 AM / 6 years ago

Blockbuster courts Netflix users, asks them to pay more

Blockbuster is trying to take advantage of the outrage over Netflix’s recent price increase, which has caused a number of Netflix subscribers to announce that they are quitting the service. With a new campaign aimed at courting those users, Blockbuster is offering a 30-day free trial to its own Total Access DVD-by-mail service (with proof of Netflix membership). There’s just one problem: once 30 days are over, those new Blockbuster subscribers will have to pay $2 more than if they had just stayed with Netflix.

That’s because the Blockbuster Total Access plan, which was originally launched years ago as a competitor to Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service, costs $9.99 a month. That’s compared to the $7.99 a month that Netflix is now asking DVD-only users to pay for its service.

To be fair, we’re kind of comparing apples to oranges, as Blockbuster has a few advantages over the current Netflix DVD plan: In addition to movies, users get access to gaming discs for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Users can drop off discs at their local Blockbuster store — that is, if there’s still a Blockbuster store located somewhere nearby. All Blockbuster DVD rentals are available the same day and date they’re released for sale, while some studios have negotiated 28-day windows before those movies are available on Netflix’s DVD service. Blu-ray discs are included in the Blockbuster deal free of charge, while Blu-rays on Netflix are an additional $2 a month. Which basically brings the total costs of the DVD subscription plans in-line.

So the two offers aren’t exactly the same. Even so, if all the uproar over Netflix’s new plans is due to insensitivity over pricing during a time of economic unease, then actively courting disgruntled users and asking them to pony up even more for a similar service doesn’t exactly seem like a winning strategy. Sorry, Blockbuster.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andrew Levine.

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