Blockbuster Unveils Blockbuster Online 0.5

By Davis Freeberg

Editor’s Note: Davis is both a shareholder and customer of Netflix

Blockbuster offered their first sneak peak at some of the changes to their site and I found the improvements to be a bit underwhelming. The upgrade from Blockbuster 1.0 will finally give customers access to rating and recommendation features that really should have been in place the entire time. The other major improvement is a review system where fans can connect and share films together. The beta also is much more ajaxy then the current site and offers better eye candy to the viewer.

Overall, I found little in the site that stood out from what Netflix has already created. In his review on the beta, Hacking Netflix aptly points out that “From viewing the demo it looks like Blockbuster has spent quite a bit of time on the Netflix Web site.”

While the changes are certainly an improvement for Blockbuster, the release of the beta reveals that Blockbuster Online might actually be taking a step back with this latest online initive. While Netflix is receiving praises in the New York Times for the breadth of their 60,000 DVD selection, in looking at Blockbuster’s beta site you can see that they will only offer 40,000 DVDs with the new service.

Currently, their main site still shows 55,000 DVDs avaialable, but if you do a Google search for Blockbuster the 40,000 DVD selection is disclosed.

Ultimately, I think that Blockbuster’s new service will do a good job of helping them to further shift demand to the long tail, but what good does this really do them, if there is not a long tail for consumers to explore. For everything that Blockbuster was able to accomplish with their upgrade, they lost in the 15,000 titles that were sold off in the fire sale.