Blog Post

Blockbuster Set-Top Box Takes on Netflix

Stay on Top of Emerging Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI, BBI.B) is taking Netflix (S NFLX) head-on and announced today the availability of its new set-top box that will deliver video content directly to TVs.

The BLOCKBUSTER ONDEMAND service will use 2Wire’s MediaPoint set top box, and will offer rentals a la carte — including new releases like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Smart — as opposed to a subscription model like Netflix.


Available now at (and at select real world locations), the box will cost $99. Well, in Blockbuster marketing-speak, the box is free, but you have to pay for 25 rentals in advance to get it. After the initial 25, rentals start at $1.99 each. The service supports HD (full technical details after the jump), and movies will cost $3.99 to rent regardless of whether they are in standard or high definition.

Similar to the Roku, the MediaPoint box will not only do Blockbuster movies, but will also be able to stream other video content from the likes of YouTube, as well as access video, music and photo content on your home network. Unlike the Roku, or any of Netflix’s streaming options, the Blockbuster service downloads the movie to the 8 GB hard drive, once the movie starts playing, the viewer will have 24 hours to watch it before it is deactivated from the device.

Interestingly, the box itself will not be Blockbuster-branded device, only the packaging and UI will have the Blockbuster logo.

While we thought highly of Netflix’s approach to the living room after hearing CEO Reed Hastings speak at NewTeeVee Live earlier this month, content is still the company’s Achilles heel. Blockbuster’s a la carte approach and the ability to get new releases definitely trumps Netflix’s current content catalog. While Netflix has 12,000 videos, it’s still pretty frustrating to find a ton of things worth watching. However, Netflix is on more devices like the Xbox 360, TiVo and Blu-Ray as well as LG and Samsung DVD players, and the subscription approach is more economical if you watch a lot of movies.

But, this is the type of move Blockbuster needs to make in order to survive.

Technical Details
In the Box

  • 2Wire MediaPoint Digital Media Player (8” x 8” x 1”)
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Power Adapter
  • Composite A/V cable (supports SD viewing)
  • Remote Control
  • AAA Batteries

Video and Audio Connections

  • Composite
  • Component *
  • HDMI*
  • Stereo Audio
  • Toslink (digital optical audio)*

Network Connections

  • Ethernet*
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)

*cable must be purchased separately

12 Responses to “Blockbuster Set-Top Box Takes on Netflix”

  1. Ok its all about the Bussiness Model where Netflix gets it right and streams to various boxes via its subscription model .

    Most online video companies have failed based on their outdated business models and its been proven that the customer doesn’t want Pay per view downloads they want streaming content thats either Ad supported (HULU and Joost) or as part of a subscription based model (Netflix) .


  2. Comment Guy

    I love waiting several hours to watch a downloaded movies from Blockbuster as much as I need a hole in my head. Download video sucks ass. I’d never buy a download set top box.

    I want an instant streaming set top box from a service provider where I can get high definition 1080p blu-ray quality video on demand and live tv from one place over a low bandwidth connection (3Mbps or less) on both PC Player for PC and set top box for TV.

    Oh wait, it already exists, it’s called MyTVPAL! (WWW.MYTVPAL.COM).

    Blockbuster is just trying to keep it’s stock up until it dies! It has no flare innovation. Those who do not innovate do not survive.

    On demand means instant playing. So we should call it “wait several hours then never use the darn box again because your fed up of download boxes, just like AKIMBO”. That’s right! Just like Akimbo.

    Congratulations Blockbuster on once again missing the mark and sailing below our expectations.

    Long live 1080p blu-ray instant streaming on MTP!

    Comment Guy