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Study: Blockbuster Rated Superior to Netflix for Disc Rentals

9 Oct, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix edges Hulu in overall video rental experience

Blockbuster is rated superior to Netflix for by-mail disc rentals due to the venerable rental brand’s ability to match Netflix in the number of titles offered (100,000) and speed of delivery (about one day), while offering superior quality of content, according to a new study.

NextAdvisor.com, a San Francisco-based research firm, compared Netflix, Hulu, Amazon (including Prime Instant Video), iTunes, Blockbuster, YouTube and CinemaNow for each service’s price, content selection, video quality, viewing options (computer and portable device) and customer service.

Although not cited in the study, Netflix — unlike Blockbuster — is subject to select studio embargoes, including a 56-day delay for new titles from Warner Home Video. The study, which tracked Blockbuster Total Access (online rental, in-store returns), made no mention of Blockbuster’s corporate parent — Dish Network — or its Blockbuster @Home rental (physical and digital) service offered free (for three months) to new satellite TV subscribers. At the same time, the study said Blockbuster’s streaming platform was “seriously lacking,” making the brand difficult to compete overall.

“If you would rather get DVDs by mail, this is the perfect service for you,” NextAdvisor wrote.

Blockbuster topped Netflix in disc rentals due to its superior availability of new releases and offering video games.

“This is a big perk for any gamers out there,” the study said.

Netflix, through its larger collection of streaming titles and free 30-day trial, among other features, edged out Hulu (and Hulu Plus) in overall video rental experience.

NextAdvisor found nothing remarkable about Blockbuster On Demand, the transactional video-on-demand service, and even less so for its streaming platform, which it said is limited to movies such as Tooth Fairy 2 and The Babymakers, among others.

“Their TV streaming selection is even more abysmal, with only 10 options, none of which we have even heard of,” the study reported.

NextAdvisor said transactional VOD services such as iTunes, YouTube and CinemaNow offer new releases on street date but said the fees ($1.99 for TV shows to $4.99 for movies) are prohibitive. The study found YouTube’s rental user interface confusing and cited the lack of TV program rentals at Best Buy-owned CinemaNow as a deterrent.

Meanwhile, NextAdvisor said Hulu is the best source for repurposed TV programs. It said Hulu’s portfolio of current television programming — many offered a day after they air on live TV — exceeds most other video streaming sites. The report lauded Hulu's free access on any computer and said the mandatory ad spots (even with SVOD service Hulu Plus) were not an issue.

“Hulu is best at offering the most up-to-date episodes of your current TV favorites,” the study wrote.

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