Blockbuster bows to demand for online DVDs

Blockbuster, the home entertainment retail chain, is launching an online DVD rental service this week following pressure from dedicated online operators.

The launch of the service will be backed by a &£1m internet advertising campaign created by Agency Republic.

Customers will be allowed to rent films for as long as they want for a fixed monthly fee. They will be encouraged to set up a revolving “wants list”, but will not be allowed to hold more than five discs at any one time.

Subscriptions are tiered at &£13.99 a month for three discs and &£20.99 for five. Discs will be returned in a pre-paid first-class envelope, which will be provided. A one-month free trial is being offered for a limited period.

Dedicated online companies that operate a subscription-based DVD rental service without the overheads of retail stores include DVD Choice, ScreenSelect and Lovefilm.com (see below).

ScreenSelect has teamed up with sales promotion agency GFM to create joint marketing alliances with high street, packaged goods and media brands. A free trial of ScreenSelect’s service is being lined up with a Sunday tabloid.

Blockbuster is also testing a DVD trade-in programme at some Scottish stores (MW last week).

Home ownership of DVD players stands at 57 per cent and three quarters of UK film renters have access to the internet, according to the HPI Research Group.

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