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Blockbuster to raise online rental prices

Price increase for online DVD rentals puts the company back in line with main rival Netflix.

Blockbuster plans to raise its prices for online DVD rentals, putting it back in line with main rival Netflix.

The price of Blockbuster's three-movies-out-at-once rental plan will now be $17.99 per month, up from $14.99, the company said Tuesday. The new rate is the same that Netflix charges for three movies--the most it allows customers to have at a time.

Other Blockbuster plans will also cost more--five movies out will cost $29.99 per month and eight movies out will be $47.99 monthly, the company said. The new prices go into effect Aug. 19.

Blockbuster and Netflix currently dominate the DVD rental market., which offers a movie rental service in the U.K., recently bought a DVD-on-demand site, fueling industry expectation that it plans to offer a rental service in the American market too.

Blockbuster's $17.99 price applies to new subscribers and anyone who signed up on or after March 1, 2005. Customers who subscribed for the service prior to March 1 were guaranteed the $14.99 rate through Jan. 31, 2006, the rental company said. All Blockbuster online customers can access a library of 40,000 titles and get two free in-store rentals per month, the company said.

The company said it has signed up 1 million members since its launch last August and hopes to double this number by March 2006. Blockbuster has 30 distribution centers and more than 200 stores that fill online orders, the company said.