E-tail tycoons to take on high street video chains

Two new online entrants aim to revolutionise the UK film rental market.

E-tail tycoon Simon Murdoch is looking to replicate the success of online powerhouse Amazon in the sector with Screenselect.co.uk.

Meanwhile, RetailVariations chairman Robin Klein has joined the board of newly-launched Video Island, billed as 'the ultimate DVD library'.

Murdoch, who founded Bookpages and subsequently sold it to Amazon, has become deputy chairman of Screenselect.co.uk, in which he is an investor.

The company's business model reflects that of US site Netflix, which commands 5.5 per cent of the US DVD rental market and has 1.2 million subscribers.

Screenselect will provide shoppers with 24-hour access to 12,500 DVDs - 10 times as many as the average video store - and offer free next-day delivery. There will be no late return fees.

Murdoch said: 'Our main draw is convenience - you don't have to physically go anywhere. You can order anything you want, from blockbusters to esoteric Indian films.'

Video Island offers unlimited access to its titles for a flat monthly fee and returns are made by first-class pre-paid post. Subscribers are allowed to keep DVDs for as long as they wish.

Chief executive Saul Klein said: 'We have developed a sophisticated operations platform and secured significant funding, which will enable us to capitalise on the explosive growth of the DVD marketplace.'

- Blockbuster is testing video on demand to 6,000 households in Hull, in partnership with Kingston Communications. Blockbuster is also offering two-night rentals on new releases, making it easier for customers to return items to stores on time.