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Somehow I thought this year would be the end for the Blockbuster Express kiosk machines. Back in November they changed their pricing model and it seemed like it just became a lot more expensive to rent from Blockbuster Express versus rival RedBox. As an infrequent movie renter, I found the Redbox machines to have a better selection and a better price – and you can nearly always find a free movie rental code for RedBox.
Today RedBox has agreed to acquire the kiosks and “other assets” from Blockbuster Express. RedBox notes in their release that the deal is worth up to $100 million. Interesting note, RedBox is actually owned by Coinstar, the company that makes the coin counting machines found in supermarkets. I use the Coinstar machines all the time because they charge no fee to convert the change into an Amazon gift certificate.
How long now before Netflix buys out Blockbuster mail service?
I also wonder what happens to all the codes for Blockbuster Express that I bought on Groupon/LivingSocial – better use those quick!
Here’s the email that I just received from their customer email list:
Dear Valued Customer,
NCR, which operates your Blockbuster Express kiosks, has entered into an agreement to sell its kiosks and other assets to Redbox. Until the transaction is completed (we anticipate in the third quarter of 2012), you will continue to enjoy the convenience, choice, and value you’re used to from BLOCKBUSTER Express. Until the sale is completed, we will continue to run the business as we have been, focused on bringing you the latest New Release movies with most titles only $2 for the first night. You’ll also notice that we’ve increased our In-Stock Guarantee value so you will now enjoy a movie night on us with a value of up to $3 if we don’t have the New Release movie you want in stock.
As a reminder, we still have 100s of great movies available at $1 and additional nights of all movies are still only $1, all part of preserving an exceptional value for an affordable night of entertainment.
We’ll continue to provide you with information on any changes that result from this recent announcement but for now we just wanted to say thanks for being our customer.
I just received an email from NCR, the company that owns the Blockbuster Express rental machines, that beginning on November 8, 2011, the rental pricing will change. Their subject line explains how great this change is, “New $3-$2-$1 Pricing Means More Choices for a Great Movie Night”. All I see is that some movies are now $3?!? Michael White at Bloomberg says that the movies have been $3 for a while, all I noticed over the last few months is that Redbox moves to $1.20. Of course if you know where to look, you can always find a coupon code for a free rental.
The big change is the introduction of a $2 tier for movies that have been out longer than 28 days but less than 90 days. This $2 compares to the $1.20 that Redbox charges for the same movies.
Here’s the new Blockbuster Express machine pricing:
- For the first 28 days, new releases on DVD (our Hot Movies) will be $3 plus applicable tax.
- After 28 days, Recent Releases on DVD will be $2 plus applicable tax for the initial night.
- After 90 days all movies on DVD will be $1 plus applicable tax for the initial night.
Oh and if you want a Blu-Ray movie, add on another $1 so a new release rental is $4.
I used the Blockbuster Express machines when I lived in NYC because they were more convenient for me than Redbox. Here in Texas, the opposite holds for me although when I posted my initial review of the Blockbuster Express machine, the rentals were $1.
As a deal hunter, my question is whether the deals that NCR posts about once-a-week on the new deals sites including Groupon and Living Social will change. Most of the time the deals offer 5 rentals for $2 so it will be interesting to see if the deal changes after the November 8th price increase.
One of the big movies last year for geeks was The Social Network, which provides a look into the early days of social networking service Facebook. The movie has won several awards and has been nominated for a variety of Golden Globes awards.
If you are like me, you didn’t get a chance to catch the movie in theaters. Good news for all of us, the movie will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray and in some of the rental machines tomorrow. You can pre-order the movie (it will ship tomorrow) from BestBuy and Amazon. BestBuy launched the movie on DVD at $16.99. Late last week Amazon matched the price and depending on your tax rate, you could save a buck by buying the movie on Amazon. You can pre-order the DVD for $12.99 from both outlets. The nice thing about the Amazon option is they are offering $5 in free Video On Demand movies when you purchase the movie in either the DVD or Blu-Ray versions.
There are a number of bonus items if you purchase the Blu-Ray option — I have two sources telling me that the failed interview at SXSW is included in a hidden track.
It does appear that The Social Network will also be available for $1 in RedBox and Blockbuster Express machines. This is how I will watch the movie as I can’t see any real reason to own this film. The movie does show up on Netflix although no date is provided regarding availability. And if you were planning to watch the movie via Amazon Video-On-Demand, you will have to wait until February 2, 2011.
Last December I wrote about my experience using the Blockbuster Express video kiosk that was installed in a pharmacy near my apartment. Now I live in an area where you can’t seem to enter a store without seeing a Redbox video rental machine. I have seen a good number of Blockbuster Express machines here but it seems like there are at least 5-10x more Redbox machines at neighborhood stores.
As many of you are aware Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy this week. I won’t get into the bankruptcy itself here as it’s better left to the financial blogs.
What I did find very interesting is how quickly Blockbuster Express contacted their customers via email to let us all know we can sleep safe knowing that Blockbuster Express is a solid company. The Blockbuster Express machines are actually NCR video machines with a Blockbuster Express logo.
Back in December I reviewed the movie kiosk service Blockbuster Express. The kiosks have been popping up all over NYC (this morning I noticed one in Gristedes supermarket). What’s great about the Blockbuster Express machines is that you can rent from one machine and return at another machine. The rentals are $1/day and there are a ton of online coupons floating around so many times you can grab the rental for free.
The movie kiosk leader, Redbox, has several advantages over the Blockbuster Express kiosks. RedBox appears to have a larger selection of movies and they also allow you to pre-rent the movie online and then pick it up at the kiosk.
Today Blockbuster Express announced that you can now pre-rent the movies at one of their kiosks online as well. This is awesome because you can see if the kiosk you typically rent from has the movies you are interested in renting before making a trip over to the location. And if a particular movie isn’t available at your preferred kiosk, the website will provide alternate kiosk locations that have the movie in stock.
As I noted in my post, I think these type of kiosk machines are the future. From the Redbox and Blockbuster Express movie rentals, the postal kiosks, to Macy’s electronics kiosks and even the BestBuy airport electronics kiosks, how long will it be before whole stores are replaced with kiosks?
Jan Chipchase (one of my favorite blogs) has an excellent post looking at Redbox and vending in general.
While I live in NYC and can touch the Empire State Building from my window, sadly there are only small mom & pop shops near my apartment. There are no Starbucks, McDonalds, Borders, etc. There are also no movie rental shops anywhere in the vicinity. But on a trip to the local Duane Reade, I noticed something new in the store — a Blockbuster Express video rental machine.
RedBox provides movie rental machines around the U.S. and is about to start trials of video game rentals. My sister seems to love RedBox — I have not had a chance to try the service as there are no RedBox machines near my apartment. It looks like Blockbuster Express is similar to RedBox. I gave the Blockbuster Express machine a try and here are my thoughts on the experience.
The Blockbuster Express website allows you to register to create a list of movies you would like to rent. I found this to be a worthless feature because you can’t actually see real-time inventory or even reserve a movie for a later rental. You can view the total inventory in the machine and it appears all of the machines have the same inventory. My sister tells me that with RedBox you can reserve a movie at a specific RedBox location.
As of 3am Eastern - still down.
Back up at 4:45 Pacific says MG. And it is up, yet instead of any note about the outage, you get a popover message about adding to Facebook. Shame.
Apparently the Blockbuster Web site has been down over 12 hours as of now (11pm Eastern). Reuters notes the site went down at 9:30AM Eastern today. Attempting to access the Blockbuster.com Web site produces the following error:
We’re sorry; blockbuster.com is currently unavailable due to technical difficulties. We’re working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and expect resolution tonight.
Ok fine, it’s down. No customer service phone number? No backup plan for dealing with customer issues during the downtime? That’s not acceptable. Where are their disaster recovery plans? Will this outage affect the stock on Tuesday morning? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
It would be interesting to see if Netflix has received a surge in traffic today. MG Siegler wonders if this is compounded by Netflix’s partnership with LG for the "living room". Maybe no one cares about Blockbuster anymore – it’s interesting that this wasn’t a bigger story today.