Someone please take that shovel away from Blockbuster, because the hole they keep digging for themselves is just getting deeper and deeper.
Fast Company reports that the Blockbuster Express kiosk system is quickly losing the "28 day advantage" that allows Blockbuster to rent certain new releases to customers several weeks before Netflix and Redbox could. They've already lost that exclusivity with 20th Century Fox and Universal, but now you can add Warner Bros. to that list. This will prove financially painful for the company now that there's less incentive for people to seek out Blockbuster kiosks instead of Redbox (the kiosk system was specifically created to counteract the growing popularity of Redbox) because everyone will be getting releases at the same time.
It will also be pretty embarrassing, since Blockbuster's entire post-bankruptcy marketing strategy has centered on their four-week advantage over their competitors.
Although actual Blockbuster stores will continue to get these releases early, this will do nothing in their fight against Netflix and Redbox. Between Netflix's awe-inspiring Instant Watch and Redbox's omnipresence at seemingly every service station and grocery store you walk into, venturing out to your local understocked Blockbuster (usually staffed by people who know jack about movies) just feels mighty inconvenient. Although the loss of jobs is certainly sad, it's hard to feel bad for a corporation that did its best to destroy just about every knowledgeable mom and pop video rental store in the country.
The reason for the loss of this advantage is simple enough: NCR, who operates Blockbuster's kiosks, realized that it would be significantly cheaper to wait that extra month before stocking new releases and struck a deal with Warner Bros. to go ahead and wait those extra 28 days. The original story has all the technical details for those of you who want to know all of the business ins and outs going on here.
But what does this mean for you, humble movie fan? If you've already devoted yourself entirely to Netflix and Redbox, it means nothing and you can go about your merry way. If you're a regular Blockbuster customer, it means you may have to wait an extra month to rent certain new releases -- and unless someone pulls Blockbuster out of this grave it's digging for itself, you may need to start looking for other ways to watch your movies.
UPDATE: Interestingly, the Blockbuster Express system has less connection to the Blockbuster company than we thought. This piece from The Consumerist goes into detail about how the NCR owned and operated kiosks have been trying to distance themselves from the bankrupt company. What if NCR goes as far as to remove the Blockbuster name from their kiosks? Talk about adding insult to injury. Thanks to Tyler Foster for sending that link over.