By Matt Burns
Dish Network has the answer to Netflix: Blockbuster. The company bought the bankrupt Blockbuster six months ago at auction for $228 million and apparently wasted no time integrating Blockbuster’s current streaming service into Dish’s satellite TV plans. The Blockbuster Movie Pass is a complete media rental service and features streaming movies and TV shows along with movies and games by mail. But don’t cancel your Netflix streaming account just yet.
This isn’t Blockbuster or Dish Network’s first foray with streaming video. The then-alive (but quickly sinking) Blockbuster launched On Demand back in 2008 complete with its own dedicated player. It’s still up and running and features a robust platform support second only to Netflix. Likewise, Dish Network has long offered on demand video content and was the first to offer 1080p videos.
In fact the Blockbuster Movie Pass is a relaunch of existing Blockbuster products combined with on demand content from Dish Network. The Blockbuster streaming content adds Starz, Epix, Sony Movie Channel, and Encore to Dish’s on demand library that includes Fox, TBS, TNT, Discovery, AMC, CN, DIY, HGTV, FOOD and History. The combined content can be streamed only from DishNetwork.com. Blockbuster.com will continue to stream its On Demand service.
The streaming content can’t compete with Netflix just yet, though. Blockbuster announced today that the streaming to TV library includes just 3,000 movies — 4,000 available if watched via a computer. Of course the DVD mailing service better competes with soon-to-be-Qwikster (Netflix) and features 100,000 available titles, which can be returned at Blockbuster location. However, unlike the current Blockbuster By Mail service, you can’t walk out with another title; your next movie will be mailed to you.
Today’s announcement leverages Blockbuster’s name in movie rentals. You don’t rent movies from Dish Network, you rent movies from Blockbuster. That’s at least what Dish Network hope consumers think.
The service launches next Saturday, October 1, and goes head-to-head with Netflix for $10. However, this isn’t for cord-cutters. This service requires a Dish Network satellite TV package and is not available separately. New subscribers can opt for one year of Dish’s Top 200 programming package for $39.99 a month. The Blockbuster service will be billed with the Dish Network TV service, resulting in one bill for subscribers.
Blockbuster’s Ira Bahr said consumers "still need their SpongeBob Squarepants, they still need their Fox News.” However, some people don’t want Fox News or SpongeBob, but for those already subscribed to Dish, this seems like a no-brainer for $10 a month.