No. 1 U.S. video rental chain Blockbuster Inc. on Thursday said it was doubling the number of free in-store rentals given to subscribers to its online rental service, which it will promote with its second Super Bowl ad in as many years.
The offer, effective immediately, gives online subscribers one free in-store rental per week, up from two free rentals per month. The offer applies to all the company's online rental plans, which start at $9.99 per month.
As it did last year, Blockbuster will run a national television ad during pre- and post-game segments of the Super Bowl on Sunday. A 30-second spot in this year's game, which will be broadcast on ABC, was selling for $2.6 million.
Last year, Blockbuster ran its ad, featuring a driver returning a rented DVD to his own mailbox, before and after the game to promote its online service, which it established to compete with online rental pioneer Netflix Inc.
The new ad will also promote the online service and the new in-store offerings, but has not been finalized, Blockbuster spokesman Randy Hargrove said on Thursday.
"It's designed to show the value of our service and certainly to drive traffic to our stores," Hargrove said.
Store-based rental chains saw a nearly 12 percent downturn in rental revenue in last year's third quarter. Blockbuster reported a decline in U.S. same-store rental revenue in the third quarter of less than 1 percent.