Amazon’s UK DVD rental program

I’m darn impressed with how much innovation is coming out of the Amazon.com team. The Associates program team has launched its AdSense competitor Omakase and is just unveiling Amazon aStores this week, and meanwhile, the web is abuzz with talk of the Amazon movie download service that isn’t quite in the public eye yet, but still darn interesting. (Gizmodo, Slashdot, Reuters and Netflix, among others)
Which is why I was so surprised when I was digging around at the Amazon UK site looking for any sort of decent DVD that contains highlights of the recent FIFA 2006 World Cup games. There was surprisingly little in this category, but there was an interesting graphic that popped up:

Amazon UK: DVD Rental Program

Maybe everyone else already knows about this, but given the furious competition between Netflix, Blockbuster and other DVD-by-mail rental companies in the United States, it’s sure darn interesting reading to me…


Here are the basic terms, according to the Amazon UK site: £4.99 for 2 DVDs per month (1 at home at a time) First month FREE, £5.99 for 3 DVDs per month (1 at home at a time) First month FREE, £7.99 for 4 DVDs per month (2 at home at a time), or £9.99 for 6 DVDs per month (3 at home at a time).
(so as not to leave my American readers baffled by this, using the current exchange rates this works out to approximately $9.40 for two DVDs, $11.28 for three, $15.05 for four and $18.82 for six DVDs)
It’s a completely different model to Netflix, of course, which offers you unlimited rentals, X at a time, where the “X” value is what varies based on monthly fees. I pay $14.99 for a two-at-a-time program with unlimited rentals. Netflix has an bunch of different programs, actually, ranging from two movies/month, one at a time, for $5.99 and four movies/month, two at a time for $11.99 (Amazon UK’s offering this exact plan for only $9.40, by comparison) to an unlimited program with eight DVDs at a time for $47.99.
There are more points of comparison. Amazon UK touts these features:

  • Choose from over 40,000 DVDs, including new releases,
  • Discover new titles with help from customer reviews, personalised recommendations and expert content
  • Bonus: extra 10% discount on DVD purchases from Amazon.co.uk

Netflix does all of that too, and with a considerably larger inventory. Indeed, once Netflix decided to actually offer some DVDs for sale, I realized it was just a matter of time before they slammed head-first into Amazon (which, remember, also owns the excellent Internet Movie Database).

Buy a DVD from Netflix

Netflix offers used DVDs at great prices.


Now we can see a glimmer of how Amazon might be fleshing out its DVD sales in a world that seems to be less interested in ownership and far more interested in access on demand, whether it’s through the mail or through direct download.
I’m delighted as we consumers are going to be the big winners here. Now, any guesses how long before Amazon unveils a similar rental service for the United States?


Update: Based on feedback, I changed the title of this entry to remove the reference to being recently launched. Apparently this service has been out for a short while already, I just haven’t seen any information about it. Sorry for any confusion with the URL.


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