Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If it sounds too good...




...to be true, they say it probably is. Sometimes though, it actually is that good.

So I recently signed up with Blockbuster online as an alternative to Netflix because I had been throttled. I normally get my movies back in the mail the next day, and while I had pulled in around 16 movies a month from Netflix for a long time, they changed their practices around the beginning of the year and that number dramatically dropped.

Ok, pay attention. I found a bit of a loophole that'll get me some serious bang for my buck from our friends at Blockbuster. How many movies can I get from Blockbuster for the same $$$? Well, this is the fun part. I started my one-month trial on January 26th. As of today I have received 15 movies, two are on their way, plus my two in-store rentals for this month. Blockbuster recently gave users the option to convert their two-per-month in-store rentals to a one-per-week in-store plan. Since they got the timing off a bit, that allowed me to get two more weekly coupons for in-store rentals. For those keeping score, that brings me to 21.

But wait, I'm getting to the good part. When I went to the store tonight I saw some big banner they had in the window about joining Blockbuster Rewards and getting free movies for a year. I picked up a flyer and asked the clerk about the plan. To boil it down, you give Blockbuster $10 for a 1-year membership to Rewards. For your Alexander Hamilton you get a free movie (movie must be over one-year old) for every in-store rental you buy. Buy however is a very loose term, and the movies I pick up with my online coupons will count for Blockbuster Rewards. The catch is that you can only do this on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.

So here's what I do. Each week I print out my coupon on Monday, go into the store and grab two movies - one of which is more than a year old. I take it up to the clerk and hand him my coupon and walk out. This brings me up to 8 in-store rentals each month for a year. Throw that onto the 15 movies I hope to get during a normal month and that puts me at 23. That would be 276 movies in one year, or around 82 cents per movie. Compare that to Netflix at about $1.50/movie based on $17.95 3-plan and 12 movies per month. If you're buffering the movies like me, that starts to look like a pretty attractive alternative to cable.