Blockbuster’s Total Access is better than NetFlix

December 30, 2006

The only thing that I can say negative about the new Blockbuster “Total Access” program (besides, what took you so long) is that the “New Releases” section seems to have a bug in it.  I would think that a movie like “Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Mans Chest” would appear in the New Releases, however it does not, instead you have to search for it.  I would include “Jackass 2”, “The Davinci Code” and “World Trade Center” on that list as well.  All available but you need to search for them, they don’t appear in the “New Releases” section which seems odd.  Since this was the worst thing I could find so far (and it’s not really that bad) I figured I would get it out of the way.  Now on to the goodies:

With both services, you have the ability to sign up for a plan (I chose the 2 movies out at a time for 14.99 a month).  I order the movies, receive them in 2 business days (1 for processing and 1 for the actual mailing) which is the same as NetFlix (Currently NetFlix offers a wider selection of plans):

Plan Rentals/month Price/month* Free Trial Length
4 DVDs at-a-time Unlimited! $23.99 2 week
Free Trial!
3 DVDs at-a-time

Most Popular!

Unlimited! $17.99 2 week
Free Trial!
2 DVDs at-a-time Unlimited! $14.99 2 week
Free Trial!
1 DVD at-a-time Unlimited! $9.99 2 week
Free Trial!
1 DVD at-a-time Limit 2 per
$4.99 2 week
Free Trial!


3 DVD’s at a time  == $17.99

2 DVD’s at a time == $14.99

1 DVD at a time   == $ 9.99

The prices are comparable (exactly the same) except NetFlix offers the super plan (4 DVD’s) and the weak plan (1 DVD a month – 2 total DVD’s in a 30 day period).  Both services offer you fast delivery (I am sure that Blockbuster does the same type of priority switching that NetFlix has been accused of).  Both offer you free shipping and an online queue management system.  While NetFlix offers 5K more movies (70K vs. 65K) I think that Blockbuster’s offer is better and heres why:

Blockbuster has one thing that NetFlix doesn’t have – 1000’s of stores with 1000’s of movies on the shelves.  During NetFlix’s launch to stardom, many said that this is what separated NetFlix from Blockbuster – and they were right.  Only now I think it makes Blockbusters approach better.

With the Total Access plan, you can return your DVD’s at the store.  When you drop off your DVD (in the mailing package) at the store, you can pick up another DVD.  In addition, Blockbuster will return your movie for you and the Online portion of Blockbuster will send you your next movie in the queue.  Genius!  So what this really turns out to is two key features (that I have been quietly waiting for):

1.) The ability to get a movie quickly for those times you have unexpected guests (We have 2 boys who have sleepovers and visitors and getting a video quickly is a necessity).

2.) You can have more than 2 videos out at a time.  With Total Access, I can return my 2 DVD’s to the store, get 2 new DVD’s, and then in two days I have 2 more.

And you also receive a free in store Movie or Video Game rental a month.  One thing that NetFlix doesn’t offer is video game rentals.  This is a kicker.  So, if you have a bit of gamer in you (or you just have to see what the fuss is about) you can rent a game a month and have it out for a week.

To be honest, I have just started using my service so this is a bit new, but I think that my relationship with Blockbuster has just gotten a whole lot better.


9 Responses to “Blockbuster’s Total Access is better than NetFlix”

  1. mikull Says:

    my friends have been talking to me about online rental services for some time now, and one in particular mentioned the same argument about blockbuster.

    i recently read that on demand services (including HD-On Demand) will now be releasing movies the same day DVD’s are released in stores. i forget where i read this, but the article moved on to say how this was another strike against Blockbuster, ultimately the last man standing when it comes to movie rentals.

    i suppose it’s a good argument how online rental services are much better than in store, but will this change if Blockbuster closes it’s neighborhood doors? most info i’ve seen points to this inevitable event. we know blockbuster took serious hits when on-demand cable came about, followed by netflix’s growing popularity. i could see BB either closing shop completely, or becoming an online only competitor to NF.

    my personal question has always been- cable or rent? in NYC, time warner has excellent prices for cable, and I am able to have HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz (and all 8 million versions of each) at a reasonable rate, including their on-demand services. To boot, I can rent movies in HD any time I like for about $4 a pop (IN-Demand channel). I rarely rent anything- I either buy the DVD’s i want to own, or wait for them to hit cable. There are a number of shows and specials on cable each month that make me hold on rather than unsubscribe from the premium channels and start up an online rental account. nevertheless, its tempting to follow this course, as i have entirely way to many DVD’s.

    nevertheless, a great article. personally, i think cable could destroy rental services in one swoop if they offered a monthly subscriptions service to the In-Demand HD service. With comparable pricing, it would be unbeatable.

  2. notronwest Says:

    Ahhh… the cable vs. rental argument.

    I have been on every level of the cable train, full access to limited (my current level). I don’t really want to get into the cable argument here because it always brings in the satellite argument which always leads to the internet and phone argument. I will try and be concise here because the real argument is NetFlix vs. Blockbuster.

    Let’s say that I was the type of person that liked to make decisions based on what “will” be available vs. what is currently available. If I was said person I would be holding out for the iPhone (which we all know will not come thanks to linksys) and would certainly be waiting for an online email service that prevents all spam (almost there with GMail).

    I would also be interested in the IN-Demand (for Tristate lovers) or the ON-Demand for us New Englanders. When they do start offering movies when they are released on DVD’s I will be interested in that service.

    I used to be _that_ guy, but since I have realized that I can’t live in the future (else the now will pass me by) I have decided that at this very moment the best use of my money is a limited cable package (digital basic) in combination with Blockbuster All Access.

    To broaden the discussion (which we should surely hold off line) you should read this:

    Wired News: Goodbye TV, Hello Broadband

  3. mikull Says:

    fair enough about keeping the argument out of cable vs. the other stuff. i should have said rentals vs. in-home services- i was just always cable type of man. btw, i have both on-demand & in-demand – they say ‘on’ for hbo, show, etc., and ‘in’ for the stand-alone online rental service of new movies. but anyway…

    to add to your pricing, i read this is the rss news today:
    For new customers, Netflix lowered its rate on the 1 DVD At-A-Time Plan to $3.99. This plan has a limit of 2 DVDs per month.

    so overall, i think the end of my initial reply sums up where NF vs. BB is going: the storefront really sells BB, but are we to believe it will last? my guess is no- but that doesn’t make BB the loser. My parents, who round off the consumer market age group for rentals, never got down with NF. When I told them both about BB, however, they perked up. Difference being a physical place, and a name they knew. if BB can convert NF people with better deals, they will win over many. Whether they keep stores open or not will be defined by how they adapt, but even if they go on-line only, i think their initial customer grab will help them reach the top again.

  4. Brandon Says:

    I’m having a whole bunch of problems with total access so please read. I switched to it from Netflix because I didn’t like how it took netflix anywhere from 2 to 5 days to recieve the movies I mailed out. I always thought it odd that when they shipped a DVD I got it the next day but when I mailed my DVD back it always took much longer for them to recieve. I didn’t care so much so that I could get a free in store rental, although that is pretty cool, I cared more so that if I returned the online rental to the store that the next movie would ship right away. Fact of the matter is if I return an online rental to the store it takes anywhere from 2 to 5 days for the next movie to ship anyway. For example, today is tuesday, I returned a movie to my local Blockbuster store last friday. Not only has the next DVD still not shipped out but the one I returned on friday has been removed from my que indicating that it has already been mailed out from the blockbuster store and recieved in the wherehouse. I’m on the 2 DVD rental program and right now it’s indicating that I only have one DVD shipped. And to add to the frustration that one DVD in my que I already returned to a Blockbuster store yesterday morning.

    And yes I called their customer service center to complain. Their number was busy the majority of the times I tried to call and when I did get through the wait time was 22 minutes. The lady on the phone offered to send me a free in store rental coupon which I declined because that really offers me no solution to the true problem of the DVD’s shipping right away. I never use my in store coupons anyway because I don’t want to rent movies from the store because it’s a pain for me to return them on time. The only other thing she could offer me was a futal attempt to adjust my expectations. That kind of ticked me off.

    To test to make sure that the people in the store are scanning my DVD’s that i’ve been returning i’ve been renting a movie in the store with the DVD return and just dropping the in store DVD in the return slot on the way out. That hasn’t helped.

    So due to all this I intend on canceling my blockbuster account and going back to netflix not just because of these problems alone, but because i’ve had 3 DVD’s at the top of my que that haven’t shipped due to being on short wait availability. All these problems combined have caused blockbuster to be a much worse service for me than Netflix. Worst thing is I know that I could complain all day and all night to them and it would yield no result. Trust me I really really want what blockbuster says they’re offering. But they are promising something that they clearly are failing to deliver.

  5. notronwest Says:


    I have only been using the service now for a few weeks but I can say at this time, I am very pleased. While I will have to agree with you about the amount of time it takes for the DVD’s returned at the store to be returned to Blockbuster on line, it is not a huge deal for us.

    We are not concerned about how long it takes to get the DVD’s. On a regular basis we would rent about 3 movies a month so the 14.99 makes sense. For us, it is like heaven because we are not used to having this kind of service and the fact that we can have 4 DVD’s at a time (since the movies that we return to the store aren’t bound to any overage charges anymore) it works out good.

    Like every service, I guess this is not for everyone, and I bet they are listening well to your complaints and working hard to fix any problems that you have found with the services.

  6. Chuck Says:

    Brandon, I feel bad about your experience but still think Blockbuster would be a superior service than Netflix under the current terms. I have BB online and I too suffered from the problem you described by having less movies mailed to me than what my subscription called for (I have the 3-at-a-time plan).

    The trick is to return all of your online-rentals at your local store at the same time. This way, they will all be scanned in (not instantly I found, but more like within 24 hours), then your next batch of online rentals will be sent to you soon after. No chance of a “scanned but not returned” movie clogging up your Queue. As a matter of fact, I last week had 6 movies marked as “Shipped” on my Queue. At the meantime, whichever movie(s) you are having trouble with the long wait for your online queue, grab it a the local store for free! After you get home, check off that movie from your Queue.

    Anyway, BB online is a much better deal for the money than Netflix or any Pay-per-view service my cable company has to offer, and that’s the bottom line to me.

  7. Constantine Says:


    Here is my thing…I had a blockbuster movies pass 2 in 2 out of the store at a time…I never had problems…But it started to get expensive so I decided to try the two week trial for Netflix & Blockbuster Total Access…

    WOW The Two Week Trials Kicked Ace and I loved the fact that I was sick and I got movies everyday…BUT One thing I noticed was that Blockbusters DVD’s were ALL in bad shape and would not play…3 out of 6 I had were defective….With Netflix I did the 4 out at a time because I wanted to get the FULL ANime Series Yu Yu Hakusho and so I got about 16 DVD’s in two weeks BUT I noticed with netflix service began to slow down as I got closer to my Two Week Trial being over…I had to wait an Extra day just to recieve them…

    I am currently doing Netflix now and I can’t stand that the fact that I sent the Movies back LAST Thursday and it is Tuesday and they just sent one DVD out and ALL of the DVD’s in the Que were available…

    It seems like they are sending 1 DVD one day and then 3 another day…Which is odd for me…I can’t understand it…I even waited to have ALL 4 dvd’s before sending them back and here is what my Que looks like now…

    Movie Title Star Rating MPAA Genre Shipped Est. Arrival

    1 Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament: Vol. 13
    Click to rate the movie “Liked It”
    NR Anime & Animation Shipping today
    2 Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files: Vol. 12 NR Anime & Animation Shipping today
    3 Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files: Vol. 11 NR Anime & Animation 02/06/07 02/09/07
    4 American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile
    3.5 Stars
    NR Comedy 02/05/07 02/06/07

    Interesting…American Pie was sent yesterday and 2 above say SHIPPING TODAY but what does that mean….and look here…Another DVD was sent today…HMMM One yesterday sent, One today sent, and TWO SHIPPING TOday…

    What does it all mean BASIl???

    Well I would say Netflix has a lot of movies but Customer Service sucks and they are trying to monitor people who send back movies very fast like myself because I like to watch a TON of movies. I am an ANIME Nut…

    Blockbuster movie pass was AWSOME I could always go to the store and get movies no questions asked…Blockbuster online was disappointing and Netflix service sucks so…

    I HOPE I can get Netflix to speed up or get blockbuster to be better.

  8. Cable companies are already offering bundled internet and cable tv services at a cheap price ..

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