Video rental is a popular way for families to participate in the film industry without having to pay the often outrageous cinema prices. And at a price of $4 (price including tax) for a five day rental on each new release at most video rental stores, this is definitely the more practical way to approach the situation. But some rental franchises are taking this monumental value a step farther with free rentals.
No, they are not really free, you have to go to a friend’s house, or public library, for that. But for a small fee each month, patrons can check movies out just as if they were visiting a library. With so many companies offering such deals, which store offers the best value for the money? That all depends on what you are looking for but I will try to condense the comparison shopper experience into a few easy to follow paragraphs, to try to help you along your way. The three biggest (nationwide) names in the movie rental business are Hollywood Video, Blockbuster, and Netflix. Each of these companies offer similar but not identical services.
We’ll start with Hollywood Video because they offer the fewest choices in “plans.” They call their service the MVP subscription, and that stands for Movie Value Pass. The Basic MVP subscription is $14.99 per month and allows patrons to check out three titles at one time, per account, for free. These titles can be any from the Hollywood Film Library (also known in other outlets as “catalog video,” referring to anything on the shelves away from the new releases, which are almost always found along the perimeter of any video rental store) as well as selected new release titles, generally available for free MVP rental approximately 4 to 6 weeks following the video release, depending partially on popularity. The Basic subscription allows for unlimited rentals each month but, again, only three titles may be checked out at any one time (for free, of course, MVP members are welcome to pay rental fees on additional titles above the initial three).
For an addition ten dollars subscription fee, Hollywood Video patrons can upgrade to Premium membership. The $24.99 fee drops members down from a three-at-a-time allotment to two at a time, but they are free to rent any title in the store, including Tuesday’s newest releases on Tuesday, and they are not subject to late charges. This privilege can also be upgraded with an additional $5 per month and for a grand total of $29.99, guests are permitted to check out any three movies they desire at any given time and can keep them for as long as they like.
While their stores are still open and doing business around the country, Blockbuster is offering greater deals to their online customers. The subscription services available through the Blockbuster corporation range in price from $5.99 for the minimal service to $17.99 for the “ultimate” service.
With a monthly payment of $5.99, members are allotted two rentals per month and can only rent one video (from the online service, for free) at a time. They are also given two coupons for free in-store rentals each month, 24 per year. The most popular, “ultimate” plan, however, is the $17.99 subscription which allows three at a time from the online service, unlimited, and four in-store rental coupons per month.
The Netflix subscription charges are almost identical to those offered by Blockbuster, except that since there are no physical Netflix store locations, they offer no in-store rental coupons. Also $17.99, 3 at a time, unlimited, is not their highest offer. For $29.99 each month, Netflix customers can check out five films at a time and are allowed unlimited rentals.
Both Blockbuster Online and Netflix.com work through the mail service; according to HollywoodVideo.com, they do not “currently” offer a mail-order type service, implying that they may, in the future, join the other two in the online video rental evolution. Members browse virtual libraries on both sites to find movies that they want to see and make lists. Then DVD’s are sent from your list, to your home. The projected turn around time is one business day from the time you create your list to the time the first films arrive in your mail. When you are finished watching them and ready to receive a new title from your list, use the postage-paid envelope provided to return the ones you currently have.
Above you have the basics for comparison shopping between the three largest video rental chains. This information should help you on your way towards choosing the company and plan that is right for you and your family.