Blockbuster Debuts Broadband Set-Top Box: Pre-Paid Rentals Can Net Free Device

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Blockbuster's newest gimmick is out of the gate: the MediaPoint digital media player by 2Wire can be ordered online or bought in some stores. Well, not exactly boughtthe launch deal swaps the box for $99 in pre-paid rentals, 25 to be exact. Subsequent rentals start at $1.99. *Blockbuster* chairman and CEO Jim Keyes announced in the Q3 call the new box, which stores the video, a reversal from previous statements that the movie rental chain would avoid the hardware game. The model differs from competitor Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), which, in addition to its own streaming device, has streaming deals with multiple set-top manufacturers. Netflix offers some 12,000 titles, while Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) starts with only 2,000.

Home Video Magazine:  2Wire VP Jonathan Symonds said Blockbuster's a-la-carte approach to movie streams and the MediaPoint player's two USB ports and SD card slot did not suggest an apples-to-apples comparison with the Netflix box. He added that launching the player in the midst of a severe economic downturn necessitated the introductory pricing plan: "I think there is more risk at the higher end of the [consumer electronics] market than there is for a consumable impulse buy such as this."

AP: " Keyes promises the movies will be of more recent vintage than Netflix's instant-watching service. "We are emphasizing quality over quantity because we think quality is most important for our customers," he said. Blockbuster's on-demand service is starting out with recently released DVD titles such as Get Smart, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 none of which are available through Netflix's instant-watching channel."

By Staci D. Kramer