Blockbuster to Start Renting Movies on SD Cards


The movie rental market is about to get a whole lot smaller. As Blockbuster continues to try to compete with the success of Redbox by launching their own Blockbuster Express line of DVD rental kiosks, they’ve come up with an idea that they hope will give them an edge in this cutthroat business. They’ve begun rolling out digital kiosks that now distribute movies on 24×32 mm SD Cards.

As wacky as it might sound, they are hoping that this new format will combat two of the biggest inconveniences with DVD rentals: scratched discs and the necessity to return the movie to a store or kiosk. The SD cards will not need to be returned, and instead the content on the card will expire after a certain period of time. Also, a kiosk would never run out of copies of a particular movie since the machine would simply be transferring data to a blank card on the fly for every customer.

Obviously the big problem with this idea right now is that the average person still has no way to play movies from SD cards, but they are hoping that as cell phones, portable media devices and laptops continue to add SD card readers as standard hardware, along with new TV models, this may become more attractive to the general public. What do you think, is this forward thinking or will everyone be streaming their movie rentals before this ever catches on? Can you see yourself bringing home a tiny memory card when you want to watch a movie on the weekend?

  • I was going by my local blockbuster (had not been in for 18 months) and they had redone it with a big: Rent It, Buy It, Sell It, DVDs signage. I was curious about the “sell it” aspect and went in. The person working there didn’t even make an effort to sell this new program as they knew it was stupid – max. amount Blockbuster will give you for an old DVD is $3 and you only get a store credit. It’s basically a coupon program. Whatever Blockbuster! go to hell, you created your own karma when you decided to edit films yourself and forced employees to be robots when recommending movies (found this out years ago when a friend’s indy film made their shelves and the attendant told me that the corp. tells them which films to push)

  • Brendan

    What a coincidence, I was going by my local Blockbuster and it was closing!
    I can’t see the SD cards helping. If they offered downloads to any memory device, it might gain ground in time, but not SD cards only. Why not usb? I’m more likely to carry a usb device or thumb drive than an SD card.

  • Ian in AZ

    My initial thought is what about waste? After the SD card expires what are the odds that they’ll be re-used? I’m not even sure that the SD cards would be returnable and people are not about to make an effort to recycle them.

  • Me

    Whats an SD card? How do you watch something on an SD card?

  • Big Hungry

    They really just need to move online and or start a theater chain of high end theaters! The theaters could specialize not just in new movies but old ones and show them at the same days nation wide. Even include a live broadcast Q&A with director after the opening of the movie.

    Damn I should run the company or at least I wish I did!

  • Jay

    I think it is a smart move on Blockbuster’s part. They can’t compete with Netflix and they have to carve out a niche for themselves in someway although SD cards is really a short-term solution.

    You can use SD cards in a lot of laptops now but you know that in 5 years this format may be replaced by solid state drives or faster wireless. Who knows.

  • Glendon

    The biggest problem I have with rental chains like Blockbuster is poor selection. I think this solves not just the problem of multiple copies of a specific movie, but also means you can practically rent any movie you want from them. I think it can work well.

  • Has Blockbuster ever heard of the fucking INTERNET?

    The only people using kiosks right now are folks still watching movies on DVD players (obviously), either because they don’t want to watch movies on their computer, or don’t want to pay $99 for a Roku*. Playing movies from an SD card would require either watching them on a computer or purchasing a standalone piece of hardware…so, um, good luck with that.

    I find it hilarious that this announcement was made 24 hours after PS3 added the ability to stream from Netflix. The streaming video arms race is escalating so quickly that soon you’ll be able to stream Netflix titles through your goddamn wristwatch–yet Blockbuster apparently hasn’t noticed.

    *I guess its only fair to note that Canadians have comparatively few options when it comes to streaming. So it might be a different ballgame there. Might.

  • wow

    yea .. this idea is super lame
    do i hear a death rattle coming from that kiosk box thing in the corner of my local grocery store?
    give up already blockbusted