Seeing its chance to pounce, Blockbuster has launched a limited time, nationwide promotion for all Netflix customers who switch to Blockbuster Total Access.

The move comes in the wake of Netflix' announcement that it will almost double rates on customers wanting Netflix'streaming+DVD rental plan, from $9.99 to $15.98 per month.

The rate hikes have angered some Netflix subscribers, who have taken to the Web to protest. Blockbuster execs were apparently listening, and saw a chink in the No. 1 U.S. VOD provider's armour.

"Blockbuster quickly responded to the cries of Netflix customers," said Michael Kelly, president of Blockbuster. "We find it shocking that anyone would raise rates as high as 60 percent. In contrast, Blockbuster has worked hard over the past few months to deliver value in entertainment to consumers in this economy and has even reduced in-store movie rentals to as low as 49 cents."

Blockbuster Total Access, Kelly is quick to note, provides benefits Netflix doesn't offer: availability of many new releases 28 days before Netflix; unlimited in-store exchanges; games for XBOX 360, Playstation3 and Nintendo Wii, and no additional charge for Blu-ray movies.

Netflix customers who switch to one of Blockbuster's two most popular Total Access plans will receive a 30-day free trial. After the free trial, customers will continue to receive Total Access $9.99 per month for 1 disc at a time or $14.99 per month for two discs at a time.

"Blockbuster Total Access is Netflix 'without the wait,'" said Kelly. The combination of DVDs by mail and unlimited in-store exchanges provides more than 100 million people living near Blockbuster stores immediate convenience and unparalleled choice."

The special offer for Netflix customers is available through 15 September.

Blockbuster must be savoring the irony. The venerable movie rental company, which was recently bought at auction after bankruptcy by satellite operator DISH Network, has struggled for years to combat Netflix' more nimble business model-- first seeing its in-store business fade spectacularly in the face of Netflix' online DVD mail-order business, and then seeing the online streaming "Watch Instantly" service catch fire among Americans revelling in ever better broadband and more video-friendly connected devices.