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Blockbuster Trying To Woo Disgruntled Netflix Customers 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the come-on-baby-remember-how-good-we-had-it dept.
jfruhlinger writes "'Netflix Customers, Say Hello to Blockbuster' is the subject line of an email making the rounds trying to convince customers to switch services in the wake of Netflix's contentious price hike. The bankrupt video store chain is now owned by DirectTV and has its own streaming service. How did Blockbuster even get these email addresses? Are its services really going to be cheaper and/or better than Netflix's in the long run? Is 'You'll hate us less than Netflix' really a viable business model?" Relatedly, reader assertation asks, "Can anyone suggest a streaming movie service that has a selection comparable to Netflix and will run on a computer using GNU/Linux?"
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Blockbuster Trying To Woo Disgruntled Netflix Customers

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  • Linux support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m2vq (2417438) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:10PM (#36875782)

    Can anyone suggest a streaming movie service that has a selection comparable to Netfix and will run on a computer using GNU/Linux?

    No. There isn't one because Linux market share on desktop is so incredibly small that no one wants to put up with the cost of supporting those few users. Most normal people run either Windows, set-top box or some console like PS3. Even if someone were to make such service they would immediately get huge backslash for the need of DRM (demanded by copyright owners). Yes, continue to use Linux, I do too. But if you are not willing to come even a little bit forward (like, accepting DRM or closed binaries) don't cry about it when companies don't want to support it.

    • Just because the market share isn't there does not force explicit denial of linux the way netflix does. Hulu, amazon etc... work just fine in linux. Netflix is actually sitting on a linux compatible player (whatever roku box uses). While it isn't purely netflix's fault (it's the content providers that have huge fears that if the player runs on an open system, someone might reverse engineer it to download them). IMO it is a flat out silly fear, not that it isn't possible to do, but odds are it is just as eas
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ... While it isn't purely netflix's fault ...

        Netflix CEO sits on Microsoft board. The reason for Linux mishap is purely political.

        Amazon Prime works fine on Linux. I hope that Blockbuster will not shun our business either.

      • I believe they've already announced they are working on HTML5 support.
    • ..if you are not willing to come even a little bit forward (like, accepting DRM or closed binaries) don't cry about it when companies don't want to support it.

      Alternative formulation: "if you are not willing to be dragged even a little bit backward (like, giving up on free open source software) don't cry about it when companies that hate and fear FOSS don't want to support you."

      I like the alternate form better.

    • by JWW (79176)

      It baffles me however why DRM even matters for Netflix.

      It is easier for me to watch something on Netflix than it is for me to download it illegally and watch it. Therefore, why would I download anything illegally that is available on Netflix.

      Hell, I've watched things on Netflix that I own on DVD because I'm too lazy to find the disk and put it in the player.

      If Netflix had no DRM, I know for a fact that it would run on Linux, as I've gotten sliverlight to run on Linux.

      DRM for Netflix is completely unnecessa

      • Because companies like Disney only want their movies available for a certain time. So they are only available on Netflix for X number of months. I don't agree with it, but there's the conditions.
    • Even if someone were to make such service they would immediately get huge backslash for the need of DRM (demanded by copyright owners). Yes, continue to use Linux, I do too. But if you are not willing to come even a little bit forward (like, accepting DRM or closed binaries) don't cry about it when companies don't want to support it.

      Whether it's part of the base Windows distribution or not, a user will end up installing/updating Silverlight or Flash before watching Netflix, Hulu, or youtube.

      The community of *nix users so ideologically averse to proprietary binaries and DRM is very small. I'm sure that any *nix user that wants to use Netflix watch-it-now would set-aside his desire for a fully open-source desktop and install whatever browser plug-ins to get it to work. After all, there are a lot of *nix users out there using proprietary

    • If not Linux, the Android is just fine, too. Practically any HW running Linux can instead run Android. Google TV is Android, and is HW designed for exactly this kind of app. And it's cheap and relatively easy for just TV/movies/websurfing.

      So how about a streaming movie service with as good or better a selection as Netflix (which might be hard, but not impossible)?

    • I'm running netflix on my Android tablet. It is the same drm found on netflix, albeit without silverlight. I am also running it my Barnes and Noble Nook Color with the cyanogenmod nightlies. I am able to run the netflix app without problems. On each linux box I have I am able to play videos from HULU and that has drm.

      In each of these scenarios others are doing the same thing. You don't hear them screaming about drm.

      So what's your point? You intentionally trying to mislead people?

      And please rememb

    • by josepha48 (13953)
      Actually netflix does run on linux, because Tivo runs linux and Tivo has netflix.

      I think the issue I have with the price split / hike is it was not too long ago that I was paying 8.99 for this plan and then it went to 9.99 and the just streaming was 8.99. So they actually lowered the just streaming price, but almost doubled my original streaming plus 1 at a time plan.

  • But it's not legal.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:12PM (#36875802) Homepage
    disgruntled chrysler drivers are being chased by a zombie car salesman offering yugos and fiats.
  • by revjtanton (1179893) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:16PM (#36875836) Homepage Journal
    Dish Network picked up Blockbuster. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/06/us-blockbuster-dishnetwork-idUSTRE7351VA20110406 [reuters.com] Also note the "Subsidiary of Dish Network" part here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbuster_Inc [wikipedia.org].
    • by Dahamma (304068)

      It was also in the FIRST SENTENCE of the article the submitter referenced. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the submitters don't read the articles before submitting any more than the editors do before posting.

      • by rbrausse (1319883)

        read

        is this some new technology? please explain it to us, maybe the concept will fitting in the whole "stuff that matters" thingy /. is so proud of :)

  • by neurocutie (677249) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:19PM (#36875870)
    As an alternative, in some ways even better than Netflix, Blockbusters is a viable choice for DVDs by mail, particularly if you have a store that is (still) close to you (despite the massive store closures). But as a streaming service, no... BB streaming is still only a competitor to PayPerView, which is pretty much what BB's streaming service is... BB DOES NOT do streaming subscriptions, which is what Netflix is and really has no competition. With Netflix you give up new releases for a subscription that gives you unlimited viewing of admittedly older content that also doesn't match DVDs in breadth, but the price is right-ish. With BB, you get new releases for streaming at the high (to consumers, not to studios) prices. BB *will* have to change to compete... but its really all in the hands of the studios...
    • Well we don't really do streaming. We've had the Blockbuster DVD-by-mail service for 3 years or more, and it meets our needs very well. They tried to raise the monthly price on us once a year or so ago, so we cancelled and started looking at the NetFlix options, but before we did anything, Blockbuster emailed us with an offer at an even lower monthly price that we were paying before, sans the return-it-to-the-local-rental-store option. We never did that anyway, so we re-upped with Blockbuster for that de

  • ...from the roles of their customers who suddenly stopped coming in as Netflix' client base skyrocketed. I haven't gotten the email, but I know Blockbuster has it, and wouldn't be surprised if they figured out that my rental dollars were going to Netflix, not some little corner video shop. Especially considering most of those corner shops are out of business because of the likes of Blockbuster....
  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:19PM (#36875880)

    I'm too happy paying $16 for Netflix/Roku, as opposed to $50 for cable.

    • And most heads of household that I've spoken to are too happy paying $50 for ESPN, something Netflix can't match.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blair1q (305137)

      6 months ago, if you had a Netflix DVD account, you were paying $0 to stream through your Roku, plus $8 for the DVD. Then you were paying $11 for them both. Now you're paying $17 for the same thing.

      There's no happy there. Just the gouging anyone could have predicted once Netflix had put both Hollywood Video and Blockbuster out of business.

    • I'm also a happy Netflix customer, and will remain so - as long as the math works out. For me, it's a math problem: We dropped cable TV a year ago, subscribed to Netflix, and use Amazon Instant Video for current shows.

      The math:

      Cable TV in my area ... about $80 per month, for the channels I'd want to watch.

      Netflix (new price) ... $16 per month. We watch movies and catch up on some TV series (that we didn't watch the first time around) using Netflix. Streaming is great for shows and some movies, but they do

  • Are its services really going to be cheaper and/or better than Netflix's in the long run? Is 'You'll hate us less than Netflix' really a viable business model?"

    in a way this describes the model of Google+ compared to Facebook. so yes, this can be a successful basis

    • big DIFF to Facebook/Google: the CONTENT holders... it is very unlikely that there will be a cheaper service to Netflix. On the contrary, it is nearly certain that ALL such streaming movie services will be MORE expensive than Netflix is now, INCLUDING Netflix itself. This is simply because, as Netflix and the like get MORe successful, then the other ways in which people watch movies will decrease. The studios want at least CONSTANT if not increasing revenue. Hence price increases for Netflix and the like.
  • by pz (113803)

    Relatedly, reader assertation asks, "Can anyone suggest a streaming movie service that has a selection comparable to Netfix and will run on a computer using GNU/Linux?"

    Is this a serious question? Does the person asking think that any service with a video library as large as Netflix might somehow have escaped notice? Might not have been in the news like Netflix, Blockbuster, iTunes, Pandora, and other large streaming services? Might not have been extensively discussed on Slashdot already?

    Really?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Considering he clearly does not know about Amazon Prime video I guess so. Works fine on linux, and just added several thousand more videos. If they keep that up I will be canceling netflix eventually.

      • By "just added several thousand more videos", they actually mean "added about 2,000 episodes from fewer than 20 television shows, most of which Netflix also has".

        Amazon Prime is nice, but it's basically a subset of Netflix.

      • my understanding is that Amazon is still FAR FAR FAR behind Netflix in title depth, in fact not even close to competing... I'll look again, but...
        • so I checked again... nope Amazon Prime doesn't even rate... its movie selection is like 5% that of Netflix... forget it... Amazon Prime is only a teaser bone thrown in to sweeten the whole "Prime" offering (shipping, etc).
      • by psyclone (187154)

        Most of the "desirable" content on Amazon streaming is still pay-per-show. Prime lets you stream only the "lowest" end of the catalog for free. On the Amazon Prime about page, they link to steaming movies [amazon.com] and TV shows [amazon.com]. On those first pages, only Monty Python [amazon.com] is available for free. Netflix's streaming-only plan is only $17 dollars more per year than Amazon Prime, but Netflix's catalog dwarfs Amazon's.

        That said, it would be great if Amazon could offer itself as a viable competitor to Netflix. Like other's hav

        • by Dan667 (564390)
          hulu shows what happens when the studios get their way, it is not performing well and is for sale. They have no idea what they are doing.
    • That last sentence is what's known as a "Slashdot Cred Enhancer". It's +1 credibility point for proclaiming that you run Linux as your only OS, and +2 credibility points for actually calling it GNU/Linux.
      • by blair1q (305137)

        My toilet flusher runs GNU/Linux. I run whatever came in the computer. Because I'm not limited like the computer is.

  • "you'll hate us less than Facebook" is the Google+ slogan, right?

    It's this year's marketing paradigm. You know, like how animals and pre-humans selling insurance became so popular last decade.

  • I've never taken a business or economics class in my life, so maybe this is a dumb question, but why isn't DirectTV just spinning off the streaming portion of Blockbuster and letting the dead weight die, or at least changing the name? Are there really people who think "Ooh, blockbuster, now there's a name I know and DON'T associate with bad selection, higher than reasonable prices, and terrible service! Sign me up!"

    (Full disclosure: Long ago, I worked at a Blockbuster. We did have a bad selection, the
    • by hawguy (1600213)

      Are there really people who think "Ooh, blockbuster, now there's a name I know and DON'T associate with bad selection, higher than reasonable prices, and terrible service! Sign me up!"

      Because for many many people, they equate the name Blockbuster with the convenient video store where they've rented movies for years. Not everyone is a moviephile that things Blockbuster's mainstream movie selection is lacking.

    • by vlm (69642)

      There's a couple brain cells floating around thinking Blockbuster is still the ONLY way to watch at home. A hangover from the era after Blockbuster destroyed all other video rental operations, but before netflix and cabletv ondemand destroyed Blockbuster. Until those memories fade, the brand will still have some minimal viability.

      "Blockbuster? Thats the only way to watch at home, isn't it?"

    • by tepples (727027)

      why isn't DirectTV just spinning off the streaming portion of Blockbuster and letting the dead weight die, or at least changing the name?

      DirecTV still can't beat the cable companies when it comes to home Internet access, a requirement for VOD over IP.

  • FTFA
    >>Both plans come with a 30-day free trial and include "unlimited in-store exchanges of by-mail rentals."

    So the in-store exchange is back?
    Bastards! I used to be a fairly happy Blockbuster customer until they cancelled in-store exchange. I moved to Netflix and, evidently, I was not alone. At the time, Blockbuster said stores were losing money because of this.
    So why did they bring the plan back? Seems to me they tried to see just how much they could get out of their customers and miscalculated. Bad

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      I too left when they ended the free in-store exchanges.

      Even if they do bring it back, where is a Blockbuster store still open?

    • So the in-store exchange is back?

      It's been back for years (literal years, not hyperbole) now. At least 2.6ish.

    • by Sancho (17056) *

      Add me to the list of people who cancelled when they ended in-store exchange. The Blockbuster debacle was a huge boon for Netflix. BB raised prices, Netflix lowered them. BB canceled in-store exchange, Netflix added streaming for free. I knew several people who were displeased with Blockbuster for tihs.

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:35PM (#36876100)

    I'm mentioning this because a lot of people forget that many public libraries have excellent video collections. It won't always be the latest and sometimes you'll have to wait for a popular movie, but most libraries also seem to share the same philosophy that GNU/Linux users share: the are advocates of freedom.

    • Ours has a pretty good selection, but chances are everything you want is already checked out. Sure you can try to reserve titles I guess, but not worth the hassle for me. YMMV, of course.
      • by MacTO (1161105)

        Agreed. It depends upon your interests, your library's resources, and your patience.

        But the summary mentioned GNU/Linux so I figured that freedom may have been an element. Most of the librarians I've encountered are supportive of the freedom to read (e.g. resources should be free, censorship is evil) and some libraries are very proactive in making whatever resources they do have widely available regardless of where you live (e.g. some of the earliest big online resources were assembled by librarians, many

    • by glwtta (532858)
      The selection is pretty good, but I've never been able to get the streaming working.
  • I'm a Netflix user. Let's see what I think.

    • Netflix - Company that's been great to me, and still has rather reasonable prices. That $9 plan seemed to good to be true, I'm not surprised it didn't last long.
    • Blockbuster - Famous for being rented out, poor service, high prices, and going bankrupt because Netflix was so much better all their customers ran away.
    • DirectTV - Provided nice satellite service to me, but not known for great customer service. I left them because they ditched their great DirecTiVo boxes
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Netflix could have got away with maybe a 20-30% price hike. 60% is going to hurt them more than they anticipated.

    • Lets not forget the icing on the directTV tivo stupidity they release a 1k HD tivo and a year later announced it would not be compatible with the new HD streams (mpeg 2 only and they switched to 4 I believe) coming out that fall. Switched to series 3 with cable cards as long as the fcc is mandating they work the box works.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I dropped Blockbuster and subscribed to Netflix last month, and in many ways, I'm regretting it. Netflix is good for streaming some TV shows (as long as you are OK with watching last year's episodes) and a few movies, but it is waaaaay behind in streaming worth-while New Film Releases, and their user interface is horrible. When you go to New Releases, it shows you anything new to THEM, not new to the market. Unless someone can tell me where it exists on NetFlix's site, one cannot just look for "movies relea

    • IF BB offered subscription streaming...
      Netflix has poor new release selection...

      You've answered your own question here... the REASON that BB doesn't offer subscription streaming is that it would have to GIVE UP good new release offerings. And the reason for that is that the STUDIOS will not allow cut rate, unlimited streaming of new releases at a cheap price. If BB offered subscription streaming WITH new releases, the cost would be easily $100/mo or MORE.

      This is the choice... pretty much controlled by the s

  • Since when is a marketing tactic the same as a business model?

    No. That is not a viable business model. It is, however a viable marketing ploy if the cost of sending the message is less than the benefit received having sent it, which is likely given the low cost of email marketing (leaving room, of course for knowing how much that email list cost).

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Since when is a marketing tactic the same as a business model?

      When you see the ad.

  • "IF BB offered subscription streaming...
    Netflix has poor new release selection..."

    You've answered your own question here... the REASON that BB doesn't offer subscription streaming is that it would have to GIVE UP good new release offerings. And the reason for that is that the STUDIOS will not allow cut rate, unlimited streaming of new releases at a cheap price. If BB offered subscription streaming WITH new releases, the cost would be easily $100/mo or MORE.

    This is the choice... pretty much controlled by the

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:18PM (#36876650)
    I would use Blockbuster if they accepted payment in Bitcoin.
  • Relatedly, reader assertation asks, "Can anyone suggest a streaming movie service that has a selection comparable to Netfix and will run on a computer using GNU/Linux?"

    Actually, since Roku (and the new Roku2 as I understand) are powered by Linux, then yes, you can stream Netflix on Linux.

    If that doesn't work for you (and I wouldn't be surprised if "buy new hardware" isn't advice you want to follow), it looks like Boxee can run on Ubuntu, and can also stream Netflix. So, now the answer is "yes, but you need to add HTPC software to your computer to do it".

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:24PM (#36877548) Homepage Journal

    Archive.org has over 2600 feature films [archive.org] in addition to many more other kinds of videos. All public domain, all $free, to their webpage embedded player or download as MPEG4, Ogg Video or WMV.

    Donate [archive.org] to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit and deduct the gift from your taxes.

  • How about if we're going the other way, and want all of Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon Prime streaming subscriptions, even at the crappy total price of all of them per month? Is there a single app that runs on Linux or Android (Google TV) with a consistent GUI that's TV-easy (or close), even if each remote library has its own "style" of presenting titles (but all in-movie controls are the same)? That combo would seem to be worth dropping cable TV, especially when cable TV costs $50+ and doesn't have nearly as

  • I considered Blockbuster and went to check their prices. When I reached their site, they had a big block teasing Netflix and inviting me to join. I spent 20 minutes trying to find how much it would cost to use Blockbuster. I couldn't do it.

    So while I hope Blockbuster will turn a new leaf, I'm guessing that it wasn't an accident that prices were obscured. Come on Vice Presidents of Big Companies, the rules have changed!

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