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NCR buys DVD Play to better compete with Redbox

They should just call it Bluebox and really have at it.

NCR Corp., which is expanding aggressively in the DVD kiosk business via a partnership with Blockbuster Inc., has acquired competitor DVDPlay in a bid to catch up with market leader Redbox Automated Retail.

NCR, which manufacturers self-service retail devices such as ATMs and grocery-store checkout devices, will put the Blockbuster brand name on its $1-a-night-DVD kiosks via a partnership with the struggling home video chain.

The Blockbuster kiosks will be blue, in contrast to the red Redbox kiosks.

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DVDPlay, currently the No. 3 competitor in the market, has about 1,500 kiosks in service, including about 1,000 in Los Angeles. With the addition of its machines, NCR will have about 3,800 in the market by the end of the year. Redbox, by contrast, will have more than 22,000 nationwide.

NCR aims to have about 10,000 kiosks in stores next year. “We have an ambitious and strong strategy,” said NCR Vice President and General Manager Alex Camara.

Many DVDPlay kiosks are in Safeways, giving NCR an immediate presence at one of the West Coast’s biggest retailers.

NCR kiosks hold about 900 discs each, compared with 700 in those of Redbox. Camara said the higher capacity, along with digital signage on the kiosks, gives it an edge. However, the Blockbuster-branded kiosks don’t yet offer online reservations, which Redbox does.

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Unlike its bigger competitors, NCR is not in court with Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox or Warner Bros., all of which have refused to sell new-release DVDs to kiosk operators unless they agree to costlier deals. Like Redbox, NCR is stocking new releases from those studios by buying them at retail.

Camara said he was eager to strike deals to offer new releases from every studio and was willing to consider charging more than $1 a night in certain cases to make it happen.

ben.fritz@latimes.com


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