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Blockbuster muscle sees it lead online DVD rental market

LONDON – Rental giant Blockbuster has taken a lead in the highly competitive emerging online DVD rental market, according to research from Hitwise.

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Hitwise figures show Blockbuster as the clear leader in the UK online DVD rental market, where consumers choose DVDs online and receive them in the post, with a 36.6% share of all online visits to a UK-based movie rental site.

The figures show its closest competitor is ScreenSelect.co.uk, which has taken around 24% of all rental site visits. Further down the field, LoveFilm.com received 19.8% of visits, followed by Movie Choices with just 6.7%.

With more players entering the field all the time, the situation could easily change as consumers try out various offerings. Last week, ITV signalled it was to join the online DVD rental market after striking a deal with Video Island; WH Smith is also set to launch; and US market leader Netflix says it will be here by the end of the year.

Netflix, which claims 2.1m subscribers in the US, recently hired Frank PR as it prepares to launch in the UK later this year.

Market research groups estimate the UK DVD rental market will be worth more than £375m by 2006. More than 40% of UK households have a DVD player, with that figure predicted to rise to 83% by 2008.

Steve Foulser, vice-president commercial of Blockbuster Entertainment, said: "We are extremely pleased with the success of Blockbuster.co.uk and were happy to see the Hitwise data confirming our position as the leader in online DVD rental."

Foulser said that Blockbuster had been helped by high visibility, price and a one-month-free introductory offer.

"When the best-known, most-used renter of movies is offering unlimited movies for just £13.99 a month, backed up by a free month-long trial, customer-friendly, no-commitment terms and a fast, easy-to-use website, it is difficult to see how any internet based rental company can compete," he said.

Hitwise top 10 online DVD rental sites

1. Blockbuster.co.uk 36.57%

2. Screenselect.co.uk 23.63%

3. Lovefilm.com 19.81%

4. Moviechoices.com 6.71%

5. Tescodvdrental.com 6.12%

6. Videoisland.com 3.51%

7. Movietrak.co.uk 1.34%

8. Webflix.co.uk 1.33%

9. Qflicks.co.uk 0.52%

10. Postadvd.com 0.26%

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