Wednesday, March 6, 2013

His: Living in America 03/06/2013

A Blockbuster store closing sale.
Growing up, going to the video store was a wonderful experience. You were surrounded by what seemed like acres of shelves of every genre of movie imaginable and sometimes it was a sensory overload. It was never a quick trip as you needed to check all of the shelves to see which movie was the one you had to watch next. One of the biggest disappointments of your video rental hunt was seeing the movie cover art on the shelf but then discovering the movie was not in stock because all of the plain white cases behind the cover art were gone, indicating that all copies of this movie were currently checked out. Of course the movie you wanted was not in stock so you had to go to your next choice. If you were desperate to see a title, you could go up to the front counter to enquire if someone had recently dropped off a copy of the movie but unless it was close to 6pm when the movies were due back you were often out of luck.

A Redbox kiosk - Source
      Sadly in America the experience of going to the video rental store to check out a movie is soon to be nothing more than a fond memory. The video rental store is very quickly going the way of the dodo and there are very few left and most people haven't been to one in ages. I live in a metropolitan area of over half a million people and we probably have less then 10 video rental stores. We used to have 3 video store chains and the only one that is still around is Blockbuster and they are closing more stores every year. The death of the video rental store in America is likely due to the amount of other options for the movie fan. Two of the most popular options for movie rentals are NetFlix and Redbox. For our non American readers here is a brief description of each. Netflix is a "DVD by mail" service where members can rent as many movies as they like for a flat monthly fee. For around $20 per month you can have 3 movies at a time at your home and you simply mail your movies back once you are done and they mail you the next one on the list. The movie library has over 60,000 titles so they likely have the title you want. They also have a streaming service where you can watch 1000's of TV shows and movies for $8 a month. Redbox is a video rental kiosk that has about 100-200 of the more popular titles and rents movies for about $1 per night. The kiosks are located in many different locations and you can return your movie to any kiosks which makes it very convenient. The ease of using services like Netflix and Redbox have made the traditional video store somewhat obsolete and you don't have the outrageous late return fees to deal with either.

     In Australia the video rental store business is still alive and well. There are at least 3 major chains that still have a physical store presence in Australian cities and towns. The Redbox style kiosks are starting to appear in different areas but there are still plenty of rental stores for you to hand select your next title. The reason the stores are still so successful in Australia are probably due to the lack of a popular Netflix style service there. It would be harder to set up DVD by mail service in Australia due to the low population and the distances needed to get to the more remote customers. There may come a day where the Australian movie rental store goes the way of the dodo but hopefully that day isn't for a long time yet.

     I will have fond memories of going to the video rental store for a while yet. I will likely visit a video rental store or two during my next visit to Australia so I can relive the experience at least one more time. As much as I love the convenience of Netflix and Redbox, nothing will ever replace the experience of wandering through the store and touching the movies rather than reading the synopsis on a computer screen. All this talk about movies makes me want to watch something new. Any suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sean , don't mean to sound rude , but I have been a member of Quikflix here in Oz for years , that's our postal DVD service. Lots of my friends use it too. Check out :)


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