Blockbuster Tries to Lure Netflix Customers

NEW YORK (AP) — Blockbuster is trying to lure disgruntled Netflix subscribers angry about that company's recent fee hike.

Blockbuster LLC said Thursday that it is offering Netflix subscribers a pricing promotion and a free month's trial. The pricing matches Netflix's raised prices, though Blockbuster said its service has more benefits because it also offers video games, lets people exchange discs in its bricks-and-mortar stores and because it has "many new releases" earlier than Netflix.

This week Netflix Inc. raised the fees it charges for subscribers to get DVDs by mail and watch movies and TV shows streamed online. It now costs $16 a month to stream movies online and receive one DVD at a time in the mail, up from $10 earlier. For streaming only, the price remains $8 a month as Netflix tries to emphasize this service over its DVD-by-mail offering. Netflix's raised prices are already in effect for new subscribers and will start in September for existing subscribers.

Blockbuster, which is owned by Dish Network Corp., said Thursday that it will offer a 30-day free trial to people who can prove they are Netflix customers by showing an email or the tear-off from their Netflix mailer. After 30 days, they can pay $10 a month to rent one DVD or Blu-ray disc at a time, or $15 a month for two discs at a time. That's the same as what Netflix charges for DVD and Blu-ray rentals.

Blockbuster's regular pricing is $12 a month for one DVD or Blu-ray disc out at a time and $17 for two DVDs. That price remains for Blockbuster's existing customers and people who aren't on Netflix. Blockbuster also lets its mail subscribers exchange DVDs in its stores. The company is lifting a cap it previously had on the number of times that customers can exchange their DVDs for a new one.

Blockbuster's Netflix promotion runs until Sept. 15.

Netflix is also offering a month's free trial, but that is for its $8-a-month streaming service, not DVDs.

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