Blockbuster Canada prepares to battle Netflix

Introduces monthly rental pass to compete with U.S. service

TORONTO -- Blockbuster Canada, seeing Blockbuster left on the ropes by Netflix south of the border, has introduced a monthly movie rental pass to survive the popular U.S. movie distributor coming north this fall.

Canada's largest video rental chain said Canadians can purchase an unlimited DVD movie rental pass for $9.99 a month.

The move follows Netflix on July 19 unveiling plans for Canadians to soon download its movies and TV shows for a still-to-be determined monthly fee (HR, July 19).

There are restrictions on Blockbuster Canada's "Favorites Pass," including no rentals of Blu-ray or new movie releases, and only one disc to be taken out at a time.

The Canadian chain last year dropped the price for new movie rentals to $3.99 to help consumers during the economic downturn, and fend off new competition from discount chains like Walmart Canada.

But Netflix entering the Canadian market now threatens to turn the local movie rental business upside down.

The Blockbuster subsidiary, which operates 450 stores nationwide, in a statement told Canadians the Netflix-alternative will enable them to choose "how they want to rent their movies, and best of all, they don't have to sign up with another service to get great deals on their favorite flicks."

Netflix will not provide a DVD-by-mail service north of the border, at least for now, and has given no pricing details for its Internet streaming service.
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