Free month of DVDs timed to price-hike outcry

Blockbuster is hoping to convert disgruntled Netflix subscribers with a new promotion launched Thursday offering a free month of its DVD-by-mail service.

Netflix overhauled its pricing plan Tuesday, splitting its DVD and streaming offerings while raising the cost of having both options by 60%. The resulting outcry from customers created an opening for Blockbuster, whose president Michael Kelly went on the offensive touting its Total Access plan.

“We find it shocking that anyone would raise rates as high as 60%,” said Kelly. “In contrast, Blockbuster has worked hard over the past few months to deliver value in entertainment to consumers in this economy and has even reduced in-store movie rentals to as low as 49 cents.”

However, once the 30-day free period is over, Total Access will cost $10 per month — two more dollars than what Netflix is charging going forward for its own mail-based plan.

That said, Blockbuster is intent on pressing a few advantages offered by its plan, which include the ability to return discs to its stores. Unlike Netflix, Blockbuster also doesn’t charge extra for Blu-Ray discs and doesn’t have to comply with a 28-day delay imposed by select studios.The price hike is offering Blockbuster an opportunity to win back some customers after having its clock cleaned by Netflix in recent years. The company was bought out of bankruptcy by Dish Network earlier this year.

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