Blockbuster Express Rental Price Increase Hits Home for DVD RentersRecession-weary Americans trying to save on home entertainment just took another punch in their DVD slots. Blockbuster Express (NCR) became the third major distributor to increase its prices recently, joining Redbox (CSTR) and Netflix (NFLX). Blockbuster Express is doubling the cost of its semi-new releases to $2 as of Election Tuesday, Bloomberg reported. (Good thing Blockbuster Express isn't running for office.) The increase covers all films released to the company's 10,000 nationwide kiosks within 29 to 90 days.

NCR Executive Vice President John Bruno told shareholders last week that the company was exploring "profit-enhancing initiatives," reported.

Justin Hotard, the entertainment general manager of NCR Corp., Blockbuster Express's parent company, said in the Bloomberg story that content-providing movie studios will get a bigger cut from the increase. Studios have been whining for years about sinking DVD sales, to the point that Universal announced it would allow families in certain markets to watch the newly released comedy thriller Tower Heist on-demand at home for $60 three weeks after its theatrical debut. An outcry from cineplex operators stopped the experiment.

The new Blockbuster Express fee compensates for higher operating costs and puts the price of the content more in line with its value, Hotard said. It probably didn't hurt that Redbox and Netflix paved the way, the former increasing its price from $1 to $1.20 and the latter causing shockwaves in the industry by ratcheting up monthly charges 60% to $16 for customers who combine streaming and mail-order.

The majority of Blockbuster Express movies still will cost $1. Releases that have been available four weeks or less will cost $3, with a $1 a day late penalty. Blu-ray costs an extra buck in all categories. The additional fees will allow Blockbuster Express to avoid the 28-day embargo imposed on new movies from Warner Brothers (TWX), Universal, and Fox (NWS), said.

NCR is looking to unload its Blockbuster Express DVD business while fighting in court against Dish Network (DISH), the owner of regular Blockbuster, to keep the Blockbuster name. Seems a little complicated, but it's likely that all the public will notice are the higher prices.

The increases of DVD rental fees could accelerate home viewers' shift to streaming. That would leave digital providers such as Amazon (AMZN) Instant Video ($79 a year, including free shipping on Amazon purchases) and HuluPlus ($7.99) an opening to swipe a bigger share of the market. Dish-owned Blockbuster has a streaming arm, charging $3.99 for every new release. Blockbuster does have one advantage: It's featuring the Starz, Sony (SNE) and Disney (DIS) content that Netflix will lose in February, thanks to its recent contract dispute with Starz.

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The Blockbuster Express kiosks and the Blockbuster that streams are owned by different companies so though they have the same name (for now), they are completely separate from each other. I have the Blockbuster Movie Pass through my employee subscription to DISH and enjoy it more than I did Netflix. Blockbuster gets most new releases sooner and gives me many more options. For just $10 I get 20 extra movie channels, their disc by mail service with in-store exchanges, and streaming. I go through movies like crazy so it fits my needs perfectly.

December 04 2011 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Blockbuster sucked before and I am sure it hasn't changed. They can charge all they want. Have no reason to ever rent movies from them.

November 09 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I stopped at the blockbuster kiosik this morning. I noticed that the price was raised. One movie was $3.00 another $2.00. The man next to me walked away before I did. We did our job. Don't pay the increase which started on Nov. 8th, election day.

November 09 2011 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's sad to see how many people don't read the article before commenting about it. Most of the movies remain at $1, the increase is only for the newer discs which have been in the kiosk from 29 to 90 days.

November 09 2011 at 6:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have never used Blockbuster Express, but really...who cares? If you go to the movies, what are they now, $10 a ticket? No idea, as I haven't been to a movie theatre in 10 years. But I bet it is close to that. So you pay a few bucks to rent a current movie, big deal. Its a movie. If you don't want to pay for it, don't rent it.
While you're at it though...try netflix. I do not know what all the fuss is about netflix. I love netflix. I joined in the midst of the "re-structuring," and it is the best entertainment value I have ever had.

November 08 2011 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SO! We are playin word games. They aren't 'raising' their prices, they are 'enhancing' their profits.
Sound familiar? Murdoch at BoA released a statement that THEY had a 'right' (?) to make a profit.
This is EXACTLY what the OCCUPY protesters are out protesting FOR!
We, the 99%, are STILL paying out to SUPPORT the 1%.
Just WHO do you think GETS these profits ? Certainly NOT the clerk who has to listen to all the complaining.
And deffinately NOT the little(red) machines or the computers that take your online or cable orders!
These FAT CATS at the top are(literally) BANKING on the philosophy that the PEOPLE (US!) want 'immediate gratification" (entertained) and will pay ANY price for it!
Most DO NOT get that if they lose enough customers, they MUST lower prices to stay afloat. But THAT takes the majority of the people NOT paying for their "enhancement"
My 'profits' come from common on-the-job labor, and I absolutely REFUSE to GIVE it to 1% if I have a choice!
So, MY choice is to STOP doing business with money grubbing companies.
Netflix AND BoA have lost almost ONE MILLION customers (EACH)just in the last few weeks, now Redbox and Blockbuster want to experience the SAME losses!
Does anyone remember when gas prices went way up? People just STOPPED driving so much, they cut back on consumption. AND! Lo and behold! The price of gas went BACK down.
We will be 'enhancing' OUR profits by keeping our hard earned money in our POCKETS.
Economics are BAD enough, we really DO NOT need any more pressures, financially.
No movies, music, or games for this household until this 'insanity' stops.

November 08 2011 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You all are fussing about a SLIGHT increase! The point of the increase is for all of YOU to be able to get warner bros, Universal studios movies without havng to wait a MONTH to be able to get! This is NOT Blockbusters fault this is what the STUDIOS are asking for in order for them to realease the movie without waiting the 28 days after to get it not all of Blockbusters movies will have the increase. Netflix raised their prices cause they thought they had taken everyone out they got to full of themselves and screwed up. Redbox will have to raise prices soon, or not offer some studios moves until the 28 day mark. You really might should check who is really behind what before going off and saying WE ARE NOT RENTING BLOCKBUSTER! If you want to be upset then write the studios they are the ones wanting more money for the movies they are offering. Netflix loses disney and a couple of others in Feburary due to contract so say bye bye to those studios unless they come to an agreement.

November 08 2011 at 2:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Blockbuster is commiting suiside. I used to work for Hollywood Entertainment, and we went down in flames due to debt. People will simply stop getting movies. Wait a little while and you can get what you want through cable. They will be the next to go out of business following Boarders.

November 08 2011 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jo Ann

I won't be renting from them. Redbox is cheaper.

November 08 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Whatever, the public will bend over and take it. Americans love to be entertained and will pay any price.

November 08 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply