Guess who’s back. Back again.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

… And oh, the saga continues.

For those of you not paying attention to the always-intriguing battle between the recently struggling Netflix and the just-about-out-of-business Blockbuster on Friday, something happened that may prove to be a bigger development than many experts seem to think. Dish Network, the company who swooped in and bought Blockbuster for $320 million in April, announced plans to launch “Blockbuster Move Pass,” a service that the company hopes can rival Netflix.

But there’s a catch. Oh, boy, there’s a catch. From The Associated Press:

“To get Blockbuster’s new ‘Movie Pass,’ you have to subscribe to Dish Network’s pay-TV service,”The AP explained recently. “Dish Network currently has about 14 million subscribers, but only half have the right set-top box to stream video, said Ira Bahr, the company’s chief marketing officer. In an attempt to widen its audience, Dish Network is dangling a one-year offer for $40 a month that will include more than 200 TV channels and the Blockbuster Movie Pass. The company eventually plans to offer Movie Pass to non-Dish subscribers, but it provided no details.”

So … Blockbuster leaps at the chance to shoot back at Netflix and comes away with …  a service aimed at a select group of people who just happen to subscribe to satellite TV packages? Hmmm.

“No amount of planning can replace good luck,” Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton told The AP. “We will take all the luck we can get.”

“We don’t require a cover charge,” Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey snapped back. “That (Movie Pass) isn’t a good value.”

OK. OK. So everyone thinks this is a joke. Nobody believes it will survive. Failure is imminent. Blah. Blah.

Still, there are a few points that are noteworthy:

1. Because “Blockbuster Movie Pass” is tied to a Dish subscription, the company can offer content to which it already has the rights through program deals for its satellite TV business.

2. “Movie Pass” will offer Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures movies from Starz, which recently announced it will end its Netflix agreement when it expires in February.

3. For new subscribers to Dish, the program will be available for free for the first year.

And 4. In addition to getting DVDs, Blu-ray discs and video games through the mail, subscribers will be able to swap discs at the more than 1,500 Blockbuster stores still operating in the U.S. Yes. They still do exist.

There isn’t going to be a better time than now for Blockbuster to have another go at the reigning red enveloped champs. So, why not? If the company really does have plans to eventually take it to people outside the realm of Dish Network subscribers, who’s to say it can’t excel when Netflix seems to be reeling in the corner from the first couple punches it’s ever had to take?

Oh, and the price? 10 bucks for both DVDs and Internet streaming programs. Or, as most of you may know it, the price most people paid to have that exact same service from Netflix as recently as six months ago. Or, as some may have already realized, the price most consumers seem to think is the reasonable cost for such a service.

I know, I know. If anything, a development such as this only jabs Netflix in the abdomen area, hardly creating a bruise. We all know that the company really does have bigger troubles to deal with these days (falling stock prices and the notion of having 600,000 fewer U.S. subscribers at the end of this month than it did at the end of June are just a couple issues that come to mind first).

But even so, one thing is clear: People who enjoy satellite television packages sure do love their satellite television packages. This is yet another reason for people to wander over to that side of the fence, and the people who have stayed true to Dish are only going to continue to turn to the company for its regular television viewing habits, anyways. This addition is almost a can’t-lose for Blockbuster, an entity that very recently couldn’t even dream of the thought of winning.

For those interested, “Movie Pass” kicks off Oct. 1, and if you think this silly little blog post was already too much about such an issue, just wait: Dish is planning a huge media blitz for the coming months. Buckle in, friends. We may all be saved from Netflix’s monopolistic tendencies just yet.

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