In February, NCR said it would install 3,000 new Blockbuster Express movie rental kiosks by the end of 2011. Despite a new lawsuit with Dish Network over the use of the Blockbuster name, the company is apparently moving forward with the plan: in the past week, it’s promised 1,000 kiosks to various supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the U.S.
News of the upcoming kiosks comes from Home Media Magazine, which reported that NCR would be providing Food Lion shopping centers with 800 new kiosks, while ExtraMile convenience stores will receive a more scant 200.
Justin Hotard, NCR Entertainment’s Vice President and General Manager, touted the move. “Shoppers will enjoy Blockbuster Express as a new, convenient version of their neighborhood video store. Our customers love the choices we are bringing them with our Hot Titles program that features the latest new release movies for rent,” he said last week, adding that the company’s “core mission” mimics the brick-and-mortar stores of the past.
With six months left in the year NCR is a third of the way to its promised goal, but the impending legal battle over the Blockbuster name could potentially stymie the operation – or make it moot. Minus the Blockbuster brand, the company has understandable fears over its ability to compete with rental kiosk leader Redbox. Would its line of rental kiosks completely falter if it was called NCR Express? MovieTime Express?
Some have pointed out that NCR need only acquire Coinstar (which operates Redbox) to sidestep the potential fallout from losing access to the Blockbuster brand. However, that could lead to monopoly fears.
Despite the financial meltdown which lead to the $320 million Dish buyout, the Blockbuster name inarguably retains some clout and meaning even as the company continues to struggle against newer, more convenient movie-viewing options from Netflix and Hulu. A new summer promotion and refined pricing structure now implemented at remaining U.S. stores seeks to bring back customers.
Many have speculated Dish bought Blockbuster for a reason, and despite previous mixed signals from the company and the ongoing questions surrounding its traditional business model that reason seems clear: a Netflix killer. The question is, will consumers care?