It used to be that you’d have to drive all the way to the video rental store to get your movies to watch at home. DVDs helped change that, because they were much less expensive to mail than the bulky old VHS tape cassettes. And thus NetFlix came into being. Blockbuster saw a bunch of its business flowing right out through the customers’ mailboxes, and so followed suit with a mail-based rental service. And as these two companies grapple for domination of the movie rental market, both are looking to the future, trying to figure out what the next winning strategy will be. Maybe it will involve the Internet.
Last month, Blockbuster announced plans to buy Movielink, an existing service that provides movie rentals through Internet downloads. Netflix already has a movie download feature. The problem with both is that most consumers have not integrated their Internet connection with their televisions. That is changing slowly, but until watching a movie on the Internet is as easy as calling it up from your cable service’s on-demand feature, people will still opt for the walk to their mailbox to get their movies.