Philips, Blockbuster Team Up to Push DVD

Later this month, more than 500 of Blockbuster Video's approximately 6000 stores will install rental kiosks stocked with DVD players from Philips Consumer Electronics. Participating stores will also expand their selection of DVDs to more than 350 titles for rent and 150 for sale.

The program, which was jointly announced by the two companies last week, is intended to expose an increasing number of consumers to the new format. "Technology at the crossroads," says Blockbuster's executive VP of merchandising Dean Wilson. "We take our role in the evolution of DVD-Video quite seriously," he continues, noting that DVD is "poised for acceptance among a broader base of home-video fans . . . With Philips, we're creating a compelling opportunity not just for consumers, but for the industry as a whole."

According to a Philips press release, players will rent for not more than $15 (for an unspecified period of time), and disc rental prices will be similar to VHS tape. "This program is just the tip of the iceberg," says Emiel Petrone, Philips senior executive and chairman of the DVD Video Group of America. "It's time for us to take our message to the masses, to drive DVD to its full potential."

Petrone's message is being aided by declining prices for DVD hardware; entry-level players can now be found at retail prices as low as $300. In addition, the rental program will be accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign. According to Frans van Houten, senior VP of Philips Digital Video Group, "Education and demonstration are the keys to the continued growth and success of DVD-Video. Once consumers experience the picture and sound quality of DVD and see the breadth of titles available, they're hooked."