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Blockbuster Launches ‘Guaranteed’ Rentals

16 Apr, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blockbuster LLC April 16 said it is bowing a new rental campaign designed to guarantee in-store availability of select titles on their retail release date.

Blockbuster, which is owned by Dish Network, said that beginning with the April 17 release of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, it would guarantee in-store availability of the Paramount Home Media Distribution title through May 15 or the rental would be free. The movie generated $650 million at the global box office.

“The guaranteed availability also benefits customers across the full slate of Blockbuster services,” said Michael Kelly, president of Blockbuster. “Copies of the film [also] will be available to members of Blockbuster’s Total Access by-mail program as well as Dish’s Blockbuster@Home customers.”

The campaign is designed to compete with studio efforts to impose longer embargoes on new-release titles into physical rental channels, including kiosks. Warner Home Video recently doubled from 28 days the delay of new-release discs to Netflix. Redbox, in turn, has implemented a workaround program for embargoed titles — a program B. Riley & Co. analyst Eric Wold said is working to ensure street date availability for most titles.

Wold has said Redbox is better positioned internally to manage a workaround program for title from Warner, Universal Studios Home Entertinment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment than it was two years ago. At that time, the workaround program, which involved buying titles at retail, was considered a drag on Redbox operating income, prompting the service to sign agreements with the studios mandating 28-day delays.

Total Access allows members to exchange unlimited by-mail rentals in Blockbuster stores for other rentals.

Blockbuster@Home is Dish’s $10 monthly add-on option to satellite TV subscribers allowing access to one movie rental out at a time at Blockbuster stores, in addition to unlimited streaming access on the PC to about 3,000 additional titles.

Blockbuster@Home typically is offered free for 90 days to new satellite subscribers.

Dish earlier this year said it would shutter about 500 of its 1,500 Blockbuster stores nationwide due to underperformance and lease issues. The satellite operator has said it operates Blockbuster as a break-even marketing tool to entice and retain subscribers.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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