Brace yourselves: (former?) video titan takes aim at Netflix
By Lisa Richwine
It’s getting crowded in Netflix-land.
The field of players battling for customers in the fast-growing online video market may soon get another big-name entrant: Blockbuster, reinventing itself under new owners Dish after a disastrous run, looks ready to launch its long-awaited move into instant video streaming next week, another shot at grabbing customers frustrated with Netflix.
Blockbuster, a unit of Dish Networks, set a press conference for next Friday in San Francisco coyly named “A Stream Come True,” where it promises to unveil “the most comprehensive home entertainment package ever.”
CEO Joe Clayton and Blockbuster President Michael Kelly will appear at the event.
Blockbuster has already tried to lure Netflix customers — upset by a recent price increase — to its subscription rental service, which currently offers DVDs by mail and in stores.
Adding streaming could better position Blockbuster to pull customers away from Netflix, the popular movie and television show rental service that helped push Blockbuster from a dominant chain of video stores into bankruptcy.
Dish is trying to revive a brand that still has cachet. Netflix, meanwhile, has stumbed with a price-hike for its DVD subscribers that forced the company to cut its third-quarter forecast by 1 million subscribers as cancellations poured in.
Netflix also faces the loss of new movie releases from Disney and Sony starting February after failing to reach a deal with content provider Starz.
And finally, rivals such as Amazon.com and Hulu are working to build their own video streaming businesses.
Netflix remains the industry heavyweight with 22 million streaming subscribers. Stay tuned.