The trifecta is now complete: NCR's Blockbuster Express service has hiked DVD rental prices.
Starting Tuesday, customers who want to rent films from Blockbuster Express will be locked into the new 3-2-1 Plan. During the first 28 days after a "hot movie" is released, customers will pay $3 for the first-night's rental, followed by $1 on subsequent nights. After the 28-day window passes, the same film will be offered for $2 for the first night. All other films that don't make the "hot movies" or "recent releases" categories will be offered at $1 per night.
Customers who want to rent Blu-ray films from Blockbuster Express will need to pay an addition $1 for the first night.
Late last year, Blockbuster Express started renting new releases for $3 after it inked deals with Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. However, those rentals were only offered in select areas. Elsewhere around the U.S., Blockbuster Express kiosks have been offering $1-a-night DVD rentals.
The new pricing plan is a direct response to Hollywood studios' demands on rental companies. For years now, studios have balked at allowing rental firms, including Redbox and Netflix, to rent their DVDs within the first 28 days after launch. The studios reason that by doing so, they can maximize sales revenue on their films, since customers who will want to rent the movies won't have easy access to them.
By offering its 3-2-1 Plan, Blockbuster Express has all but capitulated to studios. At the same time, however, it could prove to be an important competitive advantage, since its main competitor, Redbox, is forced to wait for many of the latest films.
But there's more to this story than just studio desire. By announcing its new pricing plan, Blockbuster Express has become the third rental firm to hike prices this year.
The trend started earlier this year when Netflix announced that customers who had been paying a single $9.99-per-month fee for streaming and DVD rentals would be forced to pay $15.98 for the same plan. Not long after, customers balked at the announcement, and last month, Netflix announced that it lost 810,000 customers after the changes were made public.
Last month, Redbox followed that up with a 20 percent price hike, due to an increase in "debit card interchange fees." The company now charges customers who want to rent DVDs $1.20 per day.