Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best Of Both Worlds

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Netflix. I love the idea of being able to access movies and television shows at my own convenience without having to leave the house.

However, the service, while pretty exciting, is still hugely lacking in Canada if you're looking for newer releases or a broad selection. To someone like me, though, who hasn't seen a lot of movies (heck, I likely read perhaps three or four times more books in a year than I watch movies) there's still lots of "not yet seen" stuff available. So to me, Netflix is a pretty decent service with lots of room to continue to grow and improve.

But I also relish the experience of heading to my local movie rental place and browsing. I often spot titles I wouldn't have noticed on the screen (despite some pretty cool systematic browsing capabilities Netflix offers) just by walking through the aisles of the store. The serendipity of that experience is, to me, part of the real thrill. You may have walked in looking for X, but walked out with A instead (not even Y, which was closer to X, but a movie that someway, somehow caught your eye because a staff member decided to merchandise it on a "Staff Picks" endcap display you walked by.

The local video store is just down the street, after all, and it's a nice short healthy walk to get there. The experience itself of getting out, chatting with the staff there (soliciting their recommendations) and enjoying the walk there and back, is a worthwhile endeavour.

That's why I was glad to see Blockbuster offering an "all you can eat" style deal that far surpasses the limited selection of content online at 

Blockbuster Canada is offerings a FAVOURITES MOVIE PASS for $9.99.  It's a couple of dollars more expensive than Netflix, but it doesn't eat up any bandwidth (ie, other hidden costs) and you can get unlimited favourites movie rentals (1 movie at a time). It's flexible, too. So you can purchase a monthly pass on a month where you know you'll be watching a ton of movies, and not get it on a month you won't be renting any (unlike an online monthly subscription that automatically gets charged to your credit card)

I think this is a pretty big deal and represents an important strategic shift in bricks and mortar DVD/Blu-ray rental places that allows them to offer something fresh, new and relevant.  Kudos to them. They're reaching out and trying to offer customers the best of both worlds.

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