Blockbuster may join the online streaming game

It looks like Blockbuster wants to turn up the heat on Netflix and will be launching its own branded streaming service soon.

That is the likely conclusion being drawn from the fact that Dish Network will be holding a media event in San Francisco alongside Blockbuster president Michael Kelly.

Dish acquired the Blockbuster name earlier this year after the fledgling video rental chain declared bankruptcy.

This could be the first true challenge to the Netflix platform, which has largely gone uncontested so far. While there is certainly no shortage of online streaming services, most of them offer movies and TV shows on a pay-per-view basis as opposed to a subscription model like Netflix.

The closest rivals right now are Amazon, which offers streaming videos to its Amazon Prime customers, and Hulu Plus, which is more well known for its timely availability of TV show episodes. Neither is perfectly analogous to Netflix; Amazon has a steep entry charge because customers have to purchase a full one-year membership, and Hulu has only a limited collection of movies.

With Blockbuster’s decades of relationships with all the top movie studios, it does stand a chance of posing a threat to Netflix.

This move is especially timely since Netflix subscribers are a bit frustrated at the company for raising subscription prices on those who want to continue receiving DVDs by mail.

Exact terms of the Blockbuster streaming service are of course still under wraps, but it will be interesting to watch this potential new feud play out in the hands of consumers.