How Do You Rent Films?

I use Netflix and I have been very, very happy with the service and choices. I have the standard subscription which allows me three DVDs at a time. The cost is $19.25 a month. The price compares favorably with what I was paying monthly for VHS/DVD rentals at my local video rental store and I never have to worry about late fees. Since Netflix has a local warehouse, I almost always get my DVDs two days after I send them back.

Netflix also has excellent customer service and they keep adding new and interesting features.

Today, via Chris Anderson’s excellent Long Tail blog (check his left column where he tracks long tail articles), I read about a potential competitor to Netflix called DVDStation. You can reserve online and keep a wish list but you pick up the DVD at a store with at least one clerk (their studies show people like to deal with a human). Read an interview with the the co-founder at Thomas Hawke’s Digital Connection blog.

DVDStation also keeps a many-terrabyte drive stocked with films for burning DVDs. This helps in managing inventory but they are not (yet) burning on demand.

Rental cost at DVDStation is about $1 a day with no late fees and maximum charge of the MSRP for the DVD which you can then actually buy or return for a 10% refund to use against future rentals. (If you’re confused, read the interview or check their FAQ.)

Finally, let’s not forget the MacDonald’s wholly owned subsidiary, Redbox, with kiosks located at selected MacDonalds and some grocery stores. They are also $1/day with no mention of a maximum charge. They list forty-five titles at the Web site, mostly popular fare. To their credit, I noted they stock widescreen format, full edits (not family-friendly drivel), and they provide the Yahoo rating for the film (Elektra sports a C-). This is better than I expected at MacDonalds.

Thanks to Bryan who did some in-store Macdonalds reconnaisance and filed a report with me.

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