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Monday, October 10, 2005

What If Blockbuster Had Insurance?

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It’s a cold rainy night as you splash your way into the local movie rental to pick up a few DVD’s for the weekend. After you gather some new releases you take out the laminated blue card that lets you take home your favorites. The clerk who rings up your rentals looks at your account and sees that you have already seen your limit of action flicks and you are almost at the end of your drama allotment. “That’s not fair,” you tell the clerk. “I do not like comedies. Why can’t I see more action movies instead?” The clerk tells you he doesn’t make the decisions. It’s not based on an individual’s taste. The policies are set forth in the handy movie insurance guide book provided by the local entertainment association.

This is a story of an idea that looked good on paper but defeated its own purpose. Once upon a time movie rental insurance was established that would revolutionize how movies would be promoted to the public. For a monthly insurance premium, the policy owner is allowed to take home a certain number of movies. The premium is established by a committee that studies how often people rent movies. The policies are set so there will always be a supply of movies available for taking home. Sometimes a new release is so popular that there are not enough copies to handle the demand. Some people go without, but they still pay the same premium each month. It almost appears as if the committee purposely runs out of copies of a certain movie so there is a waiting list. The movie rental company makes more profit because fewer movies are circulating even though the customers pay full price. Not long ago, the movie rental company added a surcharge for DVD’s. Not only did the customers pay a premium every month, they also had to pay more out of their pocket for each rental. Lately, a small group of customers who felt they were treated poorly cancelled their movie insurance. They pooled their money and purchased movies they wanted. They took turns watching them. They were pleased with their decision because they had control over their choices. They were also assured that the DVD’s were in good condition. Some families realized they were saving money and could afford going to the theatre. They liked it better because the theatre staff was nicer and always made them feel welcome. Another group of former customers decided the whole movie business was becoming a nuisance and they looked elsewhere for entertainment. Music performances, book clubs and bowling nights were more fulfilling. Some members of this group found it more interesting to participate in activities rather than just sit passively in front of a TV screen. They didn’t even miss the movies. More and more customers are appreciating the variety of entertainment options available and could not believe they were once in such a rut.

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