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Blockbuster Movie Pass

Today, Blockbuster/Dish Network announced a new streaming service to compete with Netflix. Blockbuster's new service, Blockbuster Movie Pass, will allow subscribers to stream video, receive DVDs by mail, and exchange mailers for DVDs at Blockbuster stores. The new plan will be available to existing Dish Network customers for an additional charge of $10.

There is no word yet on when or if the plan will be made available to those who are not Dish Network subscribers. Right now, it appears Dish Network is going to use Blockbuster Movie Pass as bait to attract new customers to Dish Network and retain the ones they already have.

Certainly, at some point, Dish Network will see the value of making Blockbuster Movie Pass available to all. Netflix is really on its heels at the moment. A really great service that offers DVD-by-mail, in-store exchanges, and streaming video at a competitive price could be just the thing to knock Netflix to the mat.

Unfortunately for Blockbuster, they are probably not going to act fast enough to take full advantage of Netflix's weaknesses and its furious mass of disgruntled customers. Those angry customers are going to cool down in a few months. If Blockbuster does not act right away by offering them a competing service at a competitive price, the opportunity will be lost, and Blockbuster will--once again--have missed the boat. Isn't that just the way things always seem to go at Blockbuster?


A Stream Come True, Blockbuster to Offer Streaming Video?

Blockbuster is planning to hold a press conference on September 23, 2011. The press conference will be streamed live from San Francisco at 10:00 AM PT on Ustream (

An event called "A Stream Come True" has been heavily rumored to be an announcement of Blockbuster's entry into streaming video as part of "the most comprehensive home entertainment package ever." Given the current turmoil facing Blockbuster's main competitor, Netflix, the timing of the press conference could not be much better for Blockbuster, a company that is in serious need of some good luck.

The Dish on Blockbuster Online Under Dish Network

When Blockbuster first got into the DVD-by-mail business in 2004, the service was largely a joke for the first several months. Blockbuster Online would ship incorrect DVDs, takes days to ship DVDs, etc. Blockbuster was having a hard time getting their online business going, and it was obvious.

Blockbuster Online improved in 2005 and eventually was a pretty good value. The Blockbuster Online service continued to be a pretty good value through most of 2006 and 2007. The real problems did not begin until late-2007 when Blockbuster began throttling the flow of DVDs to customers using a wide, ever-changing array of delay tactics.

Through much of 2008, 2009, and 2010, Blockbuster engaged in all sorts of bizarre and unsavory behavior such as rarely shipping DVDs on certain days, taking days to process DVDs, making subscribers stack the tops of their queues with "Available" DVDs, failing to register in-store returns, etc. In short, Blockbuster Online was back to being a joke--only this time, the joke wasn't funny. The service was just awful, absolutely awful. It was a horrible value, a major headache for consumers, and it was probably one of the main reasons Blockbuster wound up finally going bankrupt in 2010. Blockbuster not only deserved to go bankrupt, the company was out-of-control, and it needed to go bankrupt.

In April 2011, Dish Network bought Blockbuster at auction, and that was when things began to turn around a little. Here we are a few months later, and there is little to no evidence of Blockbuster Online blatantly throttling customers. Yes, Blockbuster Online has some substantial problems with availability, but the throttling is minimal or non-existent. For now, it appears Blockbuster Online is basically shipping DVDs when they should and not playing a lot of obvious, sleazy games with customers. This is most likely because Dish Network cannot afford to mistreat whatever few Blockbuster subscribers are left. In order to remain in the DVD rental business, Dish Network has probably decided to do nothing to trigger more customer defections from what is already a dangerously weak customer base.

Now, Blockbuster Online deserves no praise for shipping DVDs to subscribers as agreed. Blockbuster is just doing what they should have been doing all along. Since, however, Blockbuster Underground has been intensely critical of Blockbuster for at least a few years now, it is fair to make it clear that Blockbuster's DVD-by-mail service has improved remarkably since Dish Network took the reins of that deeply troubled company.

Please do not read this article as an endorsement of Blockbuster or any of its services. The Blockbuster name has been severely--perhaps permanently--tarnished by years and years of bad customer service in the stores and online. Millions of people hate the Blockbuster brand, and they have every right to do so. It will take years to rebuild trust among millions of alienated consumers.

Maybe the new Blockbuster is going to be a good company under Dish Network, but it is also possible Blockbuster could suddenly revert to its old ways. Only time will tell. If Blockbuster starts messing around again and begins taking advantage of customers, Blockbuster Underground will go right back to exposing every single wrong thing Blockbuster does. For now, on Blockbuster Underground, Dish Network is going to get a fair chance to prove they can and will deliver on what they promise to Blockbuster customers. Stay tuned.

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