NCR wants to sell the Blockbuster Express DVD kiosk business, but it may have to deal with some angry customers on Tuesday when it implements its 3-2-1 pricing plan. The company will continue to charge $3 for the first night to rent a DVD that’s been out 28 days or less. (Actually new movies will cost a penny more; they’re now $2.99.) The big change involves DVDs from the 29th to the 90th day after they’ve been released: NCR is raising the first night price to $2 from $1. After 90 days the price drops to $1. In each case it costs an extra buck for each additional night. (Blu-ray discs cost $1 more than DVDs in each window.) Why is NCR making the change? It has some PR cover; Redbox just increased its price to $1.20 from $1. And last week NCR’s John Bruno told analysts that the company is exploring “profit-enhancing initiatives including premium pricing for the new releases.” NCR also wants to keep studios happy: With its higher price, Blockbuster Express isn’t subject to the 28-day delay on new releases that Warner Bros, Universal, and Fox apply to Redbox and Netflix. Bloomberg reports that studios will receive a piece of the action from the $2 rentals. NCR says it will guarantee that new releases will be available at its 10,000 kiosks; customers who find a choice that’s out of stock can text NCR asking for a promo code giving them $1 off another $3 or $2 disc. That enables NCR to position this as a pro-consumer move. “We are making this change based on feedback from our customers,” the company says, adding that “with this change we are simplifying our pricing structure and clearly defining our portfolio of movie rental options.” One thing that’s not clear: Blockbuster Express no longer is connected to Blockbuster, which Dish Network bought in April. The satellite company and NCR are in court fighting over NCR’s right to use the Blockbuster name which it licensed in 2009.
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