They say that all good things must end, someday. That day for most Blockbuster Video stores will be sometime in January. DISH has issued a press release saying that all company owned stores, as well as the DVD by mail service, will end by “early January 2014.” Streaming will continue, as will any franchised stores that still exist.
It’s a sad note for the company that was once considered an invincible force in the video world. Blockbuster spread aggressively in the late 1980s and early 1990s, squashing smaller competitors (including, ironically, Video World) with thousands of movies to choose from and the best selection of new releases. In the last years of the 20th century it was nothing less than a money printing machine.
Then came Netflix. By then Blockbuster’s customer service had become impossibly poor, its selection stale, and it was known for long lines and interminable late fees. Netflix, which started as a mail-order DVD rental company, slowly chipped away at the dominance of those local blue and yellow themed stores with a simple mantra: “Get as many DVDs as you choose, keep them as long as you want.”
It wasn’t overnight; in fact it took most of a decade for Blockbuster to falter but when it did, it failed spectacularly. Every marketing thrust was a failure. Their streaming service started later than Netflix’s and to this day hasn’t caught significant traction. DISH bought the bones of the failing company and tried to revive it, but the result was more closed stores and less market share.
Now, it seems that the last chapter in the story of the “old” Blockbuster, the company that rented movies and games from a corner location, is over. It’s a cautionary tale about how ignoring your customers’ needs and letting them turn you into a joke never works out. It’s a story about how a company that provided almost instant satisfaction was beat by one that makes you wait two days for the product. It should be part of every business school curriculum.
DISH still has a strong asset with the streaming product which, while not as strong as Netflix, has a very solid user base, especially among DISH’s satellite customers. That may continue to grow and eventually eclipse even the best years of Blockbuster’s past, but every so often we’ll look back wistfully at the days when a plastic-covered VHS case carried the answer to our hopes and dreams… and all we had to do was go to the corner to get it.
Here’s DISH’s press release if you would like to read it:
Blockbuster to End Domestic Retail, DVD By Mail Services
• Blockbuster to close remaining U.S. company-owned stores, DVD By Mail services by early-January 2014
• Franchised and licensed stores in the U.S. and abroad to remain open for business
ENGLEWOOD, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) today announced that its subsidiary, Blockbuster L.L.C., will end its retail and by mail DVD distribution operations by early-January 2014. The company will close its approximately 300 remaining U.S.-based retail stores, as well as its distribution centers.
“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” said Joseph P. Clayton, DISH president and chief executive officer. “Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.”
The Blockbuster By Mail service will end mid-December and will serve existing customers until that time.
Over the past 18 months, Blockbuster has divested itself of assets in the United States, as well international assets, including operations in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. DISH will continue to support Blockbuster’s domestic and international franchise operations, relationships and agreements.
DISH will retain licensing rights to the Blockbuster brand, and key assets, including the company’s significant video library. DISH will focus on delivering the Blockbuster @Home service to DISH customers, and on its transactional streaming service for the general market, Blockbuster On Demand.
The Blockbuster @Home service offers over 15 movie channels including STARZ® Cinema, EPIX®, Sony Movie Channel, and Hallmark Movie Channel, plus over 20,000 movies and TV shows streamed to TVs, computers or iPads®. The service includes access to the Blockbuster @Home ‘app’ currently available to the millions of TVs served by DISH’s Hopper® Whole-Home HD DVR set-top box.
Available to anyone, Blockbuster On Demand is a transactional streaming video service offering thousands of movies viewable on connected devices including PCs, tablets, smartphones, Slingbox, Roku and select Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players. Consumers can learn more at Blockbuster On Demand | Watch thousands of movies now.
DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), through its subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., provides approximately 14.014 million satellite TV customers, as of June 30, 2013, with the highest quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value, including HD Free for Life®. Subscribers enjoy the largest high definition line-up, the most international channels, and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit http://www.dish.com.
Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements contained herein may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of DISH Network Corporation to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. More information about such risks, uncertainties and other factors is set forth in DISH Network Corporation’s Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements included in its recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012 and its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q for the quarterly periods ended March 31, 2013 and June 30, 2013. The forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made, and DISH Network Corporation expressly disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.