DISH, Blockbuster Announce $10/Month Alternative to Netflix

DISH Networks and Blockbuster announced a Blockbuster Movie Pass service for movies, TV shows, and game rentals that starts at $10-a-month for existing customers. Both Dish and Blockbuster hope the service, that combines streaming movies and TV shows as well a DVD and game delivery, will give disgruntled Netflix customers a clear alternative. Blockbuster was purchased by DISH earlier this year.

At a press event here in San Francisco, DISH announced the Blockbuster Movie Pass will launch October 1. Services include streaming video to your PC, a By-Mail DVDs and games rental service, the ability to exchange unlimited numbers of DVDs and games at local participating Blockbuster retail stores.

Prices for Movie Pass start at $10 a month for Dish Network subscribers. They'll get a one-disc-at-a-time subscription with the upgrade options of $15 and $20 a month for two and three discs at a time. All three plans will have the same streaming offerings.

When asked repeatedly if the service would be opened up to non-DISH Network customers Blockbuster's President Michael Kelly said it is working to open the service in the future, but wouldn't specify when.

At-a-Glance Overview

DISH, Blockbuster Announce $10/Month Alternative to Netflix

Streaming - For now, the computer streaming offerings are limited to DISH customer computers via DishOnline.com with a limited selection of 4000 movie and "hundreds" of TV titles available to watch instantly. Dish Network execs promised to expand DishOnline service to mobile devices by the end of 2011.

In related news, Blockbuster announced a new Facebook streaming and rental app Thursday at Facebook’s f8 conference.

One Bill

Both DISH and Blockbuster executives continually stressed the simplicity of the Blockbuster Movie Pass as an all-in-one solution. Clearly, this was a jab at Netflix’s recent split of its streaming and by-mail options that upset Netflix users. “Unlike other companies, we offer the simplicity of one company, one bill, and one connection.” said Clayton.

Not Quite a Netflix Alternative Yet

The value for customers, according to Blockbuster and Dish, is the online streaming service works together with its other streaming options on your TV along with Blockbuster’s DVD by mail service. The bundle gives customers access to over 100,000 movies and 3000 games by DVD and an additional 3400 movies and TV shows streaming on DISH Network boxes.

The move might attract customers annoyed by Netflix’s recent price hike and split and in fact it seems like Netflix’s loss has been Blockbuster’s gain in the short term. Blockbuster's Kelly said that in the last 30 days the company has gained over 500,000 new subscribers and traffic at Blockbuster stores is up over 100 percent.

DISH Network Customer Boon

In addition to the regular $10-a-month option Dish Network is offering new customers the Blockbuster Movie Pass for free with a one year subscription to the company’s $39.99 a month "America’s Top 200" programming package.

The Movie Pass seems like a great competitor to Netflix for customers who are already on Dish Network, but it remains to be seen if this will lead new subscribers for the satellite provide. Over 24,000 streaming titles, a lion’s share of the company’s 34,000 streaming titles at DishOnline.com are only available to customers with Dish Network’s America's "Everything" plan - a $79.99 a month subscription.

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