BLOCKBUSTER LAUNCHES TOTALLY NEW WAY TO RENT MOVIES: INTRODUCING BLOCKBUSTER TOTAL ACCESS™
Blockbuster exclusive: Online subscribers can exchange DVDs through mail or for free in-store movie rentals
Subscribers can get more movies, faster
DALLAS, Nov. 1, 2006 - Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE: BBI, BBI.B) today announced that it is giving online renters unprecedented access to movies through the introduction of BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™, a movie rental program that gives online customers the option of returning their DVDs through the mail or exchanging them at more than 5,000 participating BLOCKBUSTER® stores for free in-store movie rentals. The new program, available only from Blockbuster, means Total Access subscribers don't need to wait to get DVDs through the mail, essentially allowing them to double the number of movies they can access each month.
"Until today, no online rental service offered customers the option of returning their movies to the store and exchanging them for free movie rentals, and there is no other store-based retailer that offers customers the convenience and the selection of the more than 60,000 titles available through our online service," said Blockbuster Chairman and CEO John Antioco. "Customers shouldn't have to choose between renting online versus in-store, and they should never have to be without a movie. Now, thanks to Blockbuster Total Access, they don't have to."
Beginning today, Wednesday, Nov. 1, Blockbuster will automatically upgrade all current and new online rental subscribers to the Blockbuster Total Access program at no extra cost, immediately giving them the option of mailing back their online movies, exchanging them at any participating Blockbuster store, or a combination of the two. For each online rental exchanged in the store, customers can receive a free in-store movie rental. Subscribers to Blockbuster's lower-priced $5.99 and $7.99 plans will also be included in the Total Access program and will be able to exchange their online DVDs for free in-store movie rentals.
Another feature Blockbuster Total Access offers subscribers is a faster shipping cycle. When subscribers return their online rentals to a participating Blockbuster store, the store check-in process automatically initiates the shipment of the next available movie(s) in the subscriber's rental queue, whether they take advantage of the in-store exchange option or not. That means Total Access customers generally will get their online movie(s) a day faster than if they had dropped the return movies in the mail.
In addition to being able to exchange online rentals at participating Blockbuster stores for free movie rentals, Blockbuster Total Access customers will also receive a free in-store rental coupon each month. Subscribers can use the monthly rental coupon in the same visit with their in-store exchanges for another free movie, or by itself if they have already returned their DVDs through the mail or just aren't ready to return their online rentals yet. More good news is that movies received through the in-store exchange option or with the rental coupon do not count against the total number of DVDs an online customer can have out at any one time per their subscription plan.
In-store movies are still subject to store rental terms, including due dates, and must be returned to the store from which they were rented.
Another added convenience is that customers can now sign up for Blockbuster's online rental service right in the stores. With the launch of the Blockbuster Total Access program, almost all participating Blockbuster stores will have online wireless access, so store personnel can sign up new subscribers on the spot.
"Our research has shown that Blockbuster Total Access appeals strongly to online customers as well as to store-based customers who want to be able to rent movies both ways," said Antioco. "As a result, we believe Total Access will help us achieve our goal of two million subscribers by year-end, position us to grow our subscriber base in the future and assist us in increasing our share of the overall rental market."
As of the end of September, Blockbuster had approximately 1.5 million online subscribers, a year-over-year increase in its subscriber base of 50 percent, which included some 100,000 trial subscribers at quarter-end who subsequently converted to paying members. During the third quarter, the company added approximately 150,000 net subscribers.
With more than 60,000 titles to choose from online, Blockbuster delivers DVDs right to subscribers' mailboxes in return-pre-paid postage envelopes. There are no due dates or late fees with movies rented from Blockbuster's online rental service, and subscription plans start as low as $5.99 a month, with the $17.99 three-out unlimited movie plan being the most popular. A two-week free trial membership to Blockbuster Total Access is available for a limited time, including to those customers who have previously tried Blockbuster's online rental service but are not currently subscribing to the service. Visit www.blockbuster.com for details.
Blockbuster Inc. (BBI, BBI.B) is a leading global provider of in-home movie and game entertainment with approximately 8,500 stores throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. The company may be accessed worldwide at www.blockbuster.com.
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This press release includes forward-looking statements, including those related to BLOCKBUSTER Total Access, our expectations regarding the competitive impact of the program, including its impact on our market share, online shipping times under the program and our online subscriber growth goals. These forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that are difficult to predict. Actual results may vary materially from what is expressed in or indicated by the forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to vary materially include, among others, (i) consumer appeal of BLOCKBUSTER Total Access and the related impact of competitor pricing and product and service offerings, (ii) overall industry performance, (iii) our ability to obtain favorable terms from suppliers, including on such matters as copy depth and uses of product, (iv) the studios’ dependence on revenues generated from retail home video and their related determinations with respect to pricing and the timing of distribution of their product, (v) the variability in consumer appeal of the movie titles released for rental, (vi) our ability to respond to changing consumer preferences, including with respect to video on demand, digital distribution and other new technologies and alternative methods of content delivery, and to effectively adjust our offerings if and as necessary, (vii) the extent and timing of our continued investment of incremental operating expenses and capital expenditures to continue to develop and implement our initiatives, including BLOCKBUSTER Total Access, and our corresponding ability to effectively control and reduce overall operating expenses and capital expenditures, (viii) our ability to effectively and timely prioritize and implement our initiatives and to timely implement and maintain the necessary information technology systems and infrastructure to support our initiatives, and (ix) other factors as described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the factors discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2005, and under the heading “Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Information” in our Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2006. This cautionary statement is provided pursuant to Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The forward-looking statements in this press release are made only as of the date hereof, and we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statement for any reason, even if new information becomes available or other events occur in the future.