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Blockbuster is saying it finished 2006 with 2.2 million online rental subscribers. Around 200,000 of those are just trying it out while the remaining 2 million are paying subscribers. The company was able to sign up more than 500,000 paying customers in just the last three months of 2006.
Blockbuster claims the increase is a result of its “Total Access” program, which allows online customers to return DVDs through the mail (the traditional way) or at Blockbuster stores in exchange for in-store movie rentals. The company has been trying desperately to play catch up with arch rival Netflix. In fact, Blockbuster had a holiday promotion that let Netflix subscribers rent Blockbuster movies for free.
Blockbuster Chairman John Antioco explained that “Total Access” has picked up without much broadcast advertising. Only a couple of test markets were used for advertising but the majority of subscribers seems to be attributed to other factors (blogging, anyone?).
But Blockbuster may still have a ways to go if its goals have anything to do with catching up to Netflix. The red envelope company had forecast its subscribers would be over 6 million by the end of 2006…