For years, Blockbuster Inc. viewed the online DVD rental market from a back row among retail players, as upstarts like Netflix Inc. grabbed the momentum in turning the web into a DVD distribution channel. While Netflix soared in its number of subscribers and transactions, Blockbuster kept mostly to its policy of renting through neighborhood stores.
Now Blockbuster is coming on strong with a multi-pronged, multi-channel strategy, and getting some help from savvy marketers like Napster, the pioneering bad-boy-turned-legitimate-business of the digital music market. Seeing synergy between their markets, Blockbuster and Napster recently launched Digital Duo cards, which combine subscriptions to Blockbuster’s 25,000-title online DVD rental service and Napster’s digital music library.
“Blockbuster Online has the instant brand recognition and massive catalog that make it the natural partner for Napster,” says Larry Linietsky, Napster’s senior vice president of business development.
The Duo Cards, which are good for a month and for starters are available only in RadioShack stores, offer a 32% savings over Blockbuster’s and Napster’s basic monthly fees-cutting a combined price of $29.42 to $20. The Duo Card provides unlimited online access to Napster’s million-plus songs, plus two song downloads, and, from Blockbuster, an unlimited number of DVD rentals, with up to three out at any one time, plus two in-store rentals of either movies or games. m