The future of movie rentals in Canada

Despite predictions by many experts that the rental of physical media is a dead end business, a recent study by Convergence showed that last year 60% of Canadians still rented from brick and mortar stores.  Now that Blockbuster and more recently Rogers have gotten out of the video rental business who will fill this gap.  Well if you still like to have hard copies of your media, one alternative that you may want to try is Zip.ca.  This Canadian company which started in the rental business back in 2004 currently offers physical rentals of movies and television shows by mail-order or from its 115 Kiosks located in Ontario and the Maritimes.

To gain access to the more than 82,000 title DVD library by mail, customers must sign up for one of their monthly plans which allows you to get from 1 to 8 DVD’s at a time.  Membership costs range from $12.99 for one DVD rental to $54.95 for up to 8 at a time.  Rental members add the titles that they want to their ZipList which are mailed to them one or more at a time depending on their rental plan.  Members can keep them as long as they want and when you are finished with them you send them back in postage paid envelopes and the next item on their list is sent to you.  Most plans allow unlimited numbers of DVD’s out per month.

Rentals from Zip.ca Kiosks do not require membership as anyone with a credit card can rent up to 3 movies or television shows from the red boxes.  The cost of a rental is quite reasonable, most movies cost $1 per 24 hour period, while new releases are $2 per day. Customers can keep their disks for as long as 25 days, as their credit cards are automatically charged on a daily basis.  Each box contains more than 1,000 titles to choose from.  A company representative recently reported a significant increase in the number of requests for Kiosks, so expect to see them coming soon to your neighbourhood grocery store.  Given the growing interest in these vending machine type devices, Redbox, the American equivalent to Zip.ca, has said that it has plans to expand in Canada.

Although Zip.ca hopes to cash in on customers who want to rent hard copies of their media, they are also looking to the future.  In order to remain competitive with the likes of Netflix and iTunes they have announced that they will soon be offering streaming movies and television shows.  Stay tuned…

Source: The Globe and Mail, The Spec

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