Blockbuster Lowers Online Rental Fees

Blockbuster stepped up its battle for customers with rival Netflix on Tuesday by adjusting its online rental prices down.

Online rental plans now start at $4.99 per month, with the price of its standard three-at-a-time movie rental package lowered to $16.99 per month. Pricing is available to new as well as old subscribers.

The online rental industry is expected to grow by 43 percent this year. Blockbuster says the price changes are an attempt to capture some of that growth.

"We intend to capture our share of that growth, broaden our customer base and remain the fastest growing online rental service in the marketplace," Blockbuster Online chief Shane Evangelist said in a statement.

The changes in price puts its cheapest plan on par with Netflix, and its standard plan at a $1 cheaper than its competitor. However, as has been typical in the battle between the two companies, a price drop from Netflix is all but certain.

Prices listed apply to the Blockbuster By Mail service. While subscribers can return a movie to the store, it only triggers the mailing of the next title in their queue. Only Total Access subscribers are eligible to select a movie in store.

"We recognize some consumers may not live near a store or aren't interested in taking advantage of the free in-store rentals they can get through BLOCKBUSTER Total Access," Evangelist said.

Blockbuster Total Access will apparently continue to be offered at $17.99 per month, although the company did not explicitly specify.

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