March 25, 2009, 8:03 AM — It wasn't all that long ago that there seemed to be a Blockbuster Video store on every corner. Remember when they came under fire for putting all the "mom & pop" video stores out of business? That was a short-term lifestyle eh, running an indie video store? What did all those moms & pops do before they opened those stores, and what are they doing now?
But back to Blockbuster. The company has been struggling for a while now, and seems to be a perpetual follower, rather than a leader. They introduced a 'rent-by-mail' service only after Netflix was well established. And today, the New York Times tells us, they're going to announce digital distribution to Tivo, a la Amazon's Video on Demand. In exchange for providing this service, they'll start selling Tivos in Blockbuster stores.
As with the Amazon service, users will be renting movies; this isn't an 'all you can eat' service like Netflix's "Watch Now," and the odd thing is that Tivo already supports Amazon's Video On Demand. (Also, according to the Times only 800,000 Tivos are connected to broadband, so it isn't a huge market to begin with.) So what will be the differentiating factor? What will make me decide to rent the Blockbuster version rather than the Amazon version? That question hasn't been answered yet, as far as I can tell. Price maybe? Performance? It will be nice for the consumers to have options and competition on their Tivo, but it seems like once again, Blockbuster is coming in late to the party.