Product News
The Death of In-Store Rentals
CinimaNow vs. Blockbuster
July 25, 2008 | by Gordon Jones
A new survey from CinemaNow suggest a gloomy future for the brick and mortar rental scene.
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Posted by LightningRod  on  07/25  at  02:30 PM

Personally, I left “store” rentals about a year for Netflix.  The combination of ease of use and wide selection is a winner.  Streaming is a nice idea, but many areas don’t yet have the infrastructure (where’s my fiber?) to support it.  Once that is more widespread, I think b & M rental is dead, especially if someone comes out with a sensible service, with really good variety of material offered.

Posted by Marbles_00  on  07/25  at  02:44 PM

I like the concept.  Only problem, well at least where I live, if using DSL, alot of ISP’s are throttling download and streaming to maintain bandwidth.  Some then allow it after peak-hours.  Not sure about cable modems…they could be different.

Posted by Gordon Jones  on  07/25  at  03:12 PM

agreed marbles. in fact we were just talking about the throttling issue here i the office. i’m fortunate enough to have fios so speed is no problem, but who’s to say verizon won’t throttle it’s heavy users? or force a penalty over X gigs of data? obviously, the isps are gonna have to be involved in this migration, if indeed it takes off (i suspect it will). but i do feel for you… not sure i could ever go back to dsl ;)

Posted by Bigmike  on  07/25  at  03:30 PM

We have a wonderful brick and mortar store in Boulder, colorado ,the Video Station which carries more titles than Netflix ,especially good foreign films but I switched to Netflix 3 years ago and have never looked back.  Currently unless you have a fiber line going directly to your house, you are not going to be able to down stream HI def content.  I tried Cinema Now but their selection was limited and the quality was poor.

Posted by Moviegeek  on  07/25  at  04:28 PM

Ever since I’ve subscribed to NetFlix I haven’t been to a B&M;store,they have a great selection and I know beforehand if it’s in stock.This week NetFlix announced they will be streaming via the XBox 360.
B&M;stores will be around for awhile but their days are numbered.

Posted by Harry Putter  on  07/25  at  05:03 PM

I feel the opposite! I feel that movie download services are years away and that by the time they get here people won’t accept it. People are set in routines and part of the routine is to go to the movie store, just like you go to the liquor store to buy beer, or the supermarket to buy food… I could go on, but I digress. Also there are too many bugs that have to be ironed out on the hardware and software end.

Posted by stevebythebay  on  07/25  at  05:17 PM

Films and music are clearly not the same.  Even if you’re really not very interested in quality, moving that many bits for films that typically are 90-120 minutes in length takes time and storage.  Using the ‘net to download a 3 minute song is a no-brainer (especially for those who are not of the “album” generation). 

But the long-term battle will be convenience/poor quality over Blu-Ray/high quality I suspect.  And in the long run there will be tiers of bandwidth support, so people will pay for what they use in not simply speed but actual % of the service.  Hogging bandwidth will certainly come at a price, unless a broadcast style of medium is created via satellite (but even that takes up some portion of a transponder’s time, though for highly popular films it might prove less costly for folks like DirecTV and its customers, in the same way that it’s been for the B&M;folks to offer the latest flick—guaranteed in volume (e.g. Blockbuster).

So, the distribution and pricing models are yet to be defined for this evolving marketplace.

Posted by Richard deSousa  on  07/25  at  07:37 PM

Here in the SF Bay Area I can rent a DVD from a DVD/Play kiosk-vending machine at one of my neighborhood Safeway Stores. Just $1.66 per day and $.99 for each additional day. I’d bet they’re putting some major hurt on Blockbuster Video.

Posted by North  on  07/25  at  07:44 PM

There’s still too many problems with the download/streaming scene for it to take over. If it does though movie quality will go down the drain just like music downloads did to music.

Posted by Gordon Jones  on  07/25  at  08:32 PM

Harry - i’m not sure people are so addicted to going to a store to get their movies and certainly some habits are easier to break. as for beer, we had a liquor store back in chicago that delivered to the door…i got used to that real fast! there are several companies hoping on the download technology. if there’s money to be made, i wouldn’t count them out. several of the products out now are doing a decent job. another year or two and i’m guessing they’ll have it down.

North - i agree the medium will take time to work out the bugs. the struggle will certainly involve quality against convenience. the vast majority of viewers still seem happy with dvd pq… if the download services can match that, i’d say there’s a good chance they will succeed. like most industries, there’s room for two mediums. i do think, however, that downloads will seriously eat into standard dvd sales/rentals.

Posted by ironed out  on  07/25  at  09:58 PM

Cinima ?

u got to b kidding me right? does anyone supervise these articles?

how illiterate can you be not to know how CINEMA is spelled

Posted by North  on  07/25  at  10:47 PM

Gordon. Simply put that was well said. I have nothing to dispute with that comment.

Posted by Gordon Jones  on  07/25  at  11:18 PM

ironed out - speling fixd. thanx for youre nice werds.

Posted by Anonymous  on  07/26  at  09:14 AM

I’d like to know why it cost more to download HD content than rent it from a store with more overhead (lights, staff, security, mortgage/rent, etc.).

Until download sites show less greed, I’ll continue renting from my local Blockbuster.

Posted by Anonymous  on  07/26  at  02:20 PM

Blockbuster and other rental stores are much better then all of the download services for folks that value selection, quality and affordability.

The only significant thing online rental has going for it is convenience in some situations but Blockbuster Total Access and Netflix subscription plan are also very convenient rental mediums.  The environment thing is a bit overblown because most people pickup DVDs while running other errands around town.

Frankly, right now downloading for the most part only makes sense for the dishonest people that are stealing content or the folks that really don’t care about quality/price.  If the price of online downloads drops dramatically and the quality/selection goes up then it will be a more competitive choice for the consumer.

I reall don’t see this happening for another 10+ years.  Once you start buying/renting Blu-ray movies on a large screen HDTV, you don’t want to watch the majority of your movies via DVD light quality download.  Blu-ray/DVD just offer much better navigation and extras as well.

The cable companies are the only ones that make downloads truly easy with no additional equipment to buy but their prices and selection are truly awful compared to Blockbuster, Netflix and the mom and pop video stores.

Eventually online downloads of movies might be the way to go if Hollywood truly gets behind the effort and not just in a half-hearted manner but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes *15 years* from now for it to become the preferred medium.

If I could buy a movie from,, etc and have it stored on truly central servers but watch it on demand with an “industry standard” box that has the market penetration close to that of DVD, then video downloads will really take off.  But, I sure don’t want to be tied down by only downloading movies available from one provider or have to have different equipment for the different online providers.

I just see this taking 15 years since the technology and will to do something like this and put the consumer first is over a decade away.

Posted by Anonymous  on  07/26  at  02:33 PM

To add one more point with online downloads, ideally you should be able to buy a movie from any retailer(Amazon,, Blockbuster) and then watch it anywhere(friends house etc.) that has a 10th generation Blu-ray player with a hard drive and internet access.  I tend to think Blu-ray 3 or 4 years from now will be a major success and any download device that isn’t compatible with Blu-ray will fail in the US.

Afterall, you can easily move DVD discs from your home to a friends home right now.

Discs have other advantages for buyers like being able to sell them if you become tired of the movie.  I doubt the movie companies will allow this for downloads so they must do everything else right in the long run to succeed.

Posted by Eriq  on  07/27  at  11:24 AM

For those who are unaware, services like XBox Live (believe it or not) give you the option to download HD quailty versions of movies. They give you the choice. And the quality is pretty darn great. I’ve compared a couple of HD quality Live downloads and a BR disc and they look same to me.

There’s a reason why the most prevelent (and probably soon to be all) major motion picture companies are distributing content via services like XBox Live. Already there are thousands of titles available for immediate download.

BR will certainly be the last of its kind in my humble opinion. Digital downloads and transfering downloads over the Internet to different devices will be the wave of the very soon future.

It’ll certainly be less than 10 years before digital downloads become “common”. It’s becoming very common now. Give another 5 years at most—I promise.

Posted by Gordon Jones  on  07/27  at  03:56 PM

Anonymous - i have to say, i think your estimates are a bit long. 10-15 years? good lord, with the rate of technological change increasing every second, i’ll be surprised if they aren’t beaming ultra-super 3d hd directly into my brain by then.

your one line - “Once you start buying/renting Blu-ray movies on a large screen HDTV” says a lot. not everyone is buying blu-ray, or super large displays (though certainly more). my opinion: there is a large group of consumers out there that are happy (call naive if you like) with DVD quality. if the download boxes (there are several available) can support that level with enough titles and early releases, i think at least one will do very well, and i mean in the next year or two.

personally, there a movies i will download (i have an appletv) and there are movies i will rent from blockbuster/netflix, and then there are movies so awesome i will buy (sd or blu-ray and watch until i can recite every line (the wife loves that!).

i guess my point is that this isn’t an all or nothing game. there are enough consumers for several mediums to coexist, and if we’ve learned nothing from econ 101, never, ever underestimate the convenience factor when dealing with the american public ;)

Posted by trentj  on  07/30  at  04:49 PM

...and 10 years ago at the dawn of broadband and the internet many of us were imagining the day when we’d finally be able to get our movies via the US Postal Service. 

Believe we often underestimate how much greed can stifle real benefits to technology (think HDCP, format wars, high cost of broadband, higher cost of downloading a movie vs renting it, etc)

Is just sad.

Posted by Transcend  on  08/04  at  09:03 PM

“For those who are unaware, services like XBox Live (believe it or not) give you the option to download HD quailty versions of movies.”

Yep, and they charge MORE to rent those HD versions than renting Blu-Rays from the local Blockbuster, which has significantly more overhead.  Microsoft, you’re GREED is showing….

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