A Blockbuster deal

Retailer, Philips to offer DVD-player rentals

Philips Consumer Electronics has teamed up with homevid retailer Blockbuster to help spread the DVD word.

The two companies have created a DVD player-rental program that will enable the common folk to dip a toe into the brave new world of digital home entertainment, but at minimal cost.

Under the agreement, more than 500 Blockbuster locations throughout the U.S. will start renting Philips DVD video players, along with the DVD movie titles. Blockbuster and Philips project that the player rental program will be in full swing by year’s end.

“(DVD) technology is now at a crossroads,” said Dean Wilson, executive vice president of merchandising for Blockbuster. “It has been launched in the U.S., is already accepted among early adopters and is poised for acceptance among a broader base of homevideo rental fans.”

DVD players typically sell for between $500 and $1,000.

Growth potential

Initially, Blockbuster will make about 350 DVD movie titles available on a rental and retail basis. To help promote the program, Philips has designed kiosks with a DVD player and display that will stand in Blockbuster stores and demonstrate the technology.

“The early technology adopters have already tried DVD and given it high ratings,” said Emiel Petrone, exec veepee of Philips’ DVD Entertainment Group. “Now it’s time for everyone else to try it, but with new technology, consumer hand-holding is important.”

The average cost to rent the DVD player will not exceed $15 in any of the participating Blockbuster markets, according to the rental company. The average DVD cost and rental policy will coincide in most markets with the policies already in place for videotapes.

In August, consumers purchased some 80,000 DVD players, said Petrone. As in the early days of VCR, rental tryout programs such as the Blockbuster/Philips plan are expected to help boost that number, he added. “It’s time for us to take our message to the masses to drive DVD to its full potential,” Petrone said.

Of the average 350 titles that each Blockbuster store will feature, approximately 150 will be offered for sale.

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