3 Ways Blockbuster-Warner Deal Dents Movie Rental Business

A misguided, last-ditch effort to revive Blockbuster

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In a bid to stave off bankruptcy, Blockbuster has reached a deal with Warner Bros. that could change the way consumers rent movies. Under the agreement, Blockbuster will now offer new releases the day they go on sale. That's 28 days before competitors Netflix and Redbox offer them. It also extends to Blockbuster's mail delivery and online video streaming rentals. What effect will it have on the movie rental business at large? Here's what technology writers think:

  • This Will Massively Confuse the Public, writes Mike Masnick at Tech Dirt: "Your average movie renter isn't paying attention to the silly games that Warner execs are playing, and all they want to know is how come they can't rent the latest release. If Warner somehow convinced all players not to rent until a certain date, then that would effectively have just shifted the release date further back (a dumb move in an age when windows are shrinking... but that's Hollywood for you). However, by having the movie available for rental in some places, but not others, it's now setting itself up for mass customer confusion, where people will hear that a movie is available, but then get pissed off that it's not available in their preferred rental system."
  • Encourages Piracy, writes MG Siegler at TechCrunch: "Short term, this may prop up Blockbuster a bit, and may even slightly boost DVD sales. But long term, money-grabbing shenanigans like this that screw consumers will only lead to one thing: piracy."
  • Props Up an Aging Dinosaur, adds MG Siegler: "The problem with all of this is that it won’t work. People are not going to start buying DVDs like they were a decade ago, again. The window has closed. We’re moving to a time of distribution over the Internet, but rather than get out in front of that, Warner is inexplicably propping up dinosaurs like Blockbuster."
  • ...But May Boost DVD Sales a Smidgeon, notes Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica. This is perhaps the principle upside to the deal. "The stores are also known for selling DVDs, so perhaps Warner enjoys this extra sales boost, no matter how tiny."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.