Dish Network has announced that they will be closing 300 of its 850 Blockbuster outlets, a number that represents 35% of their brick-and-mortar locations. The company stated that the stores closing are ones whose leases are ending and those who are underperforming.
And even though Dish’s acquisition of Blockbuster was more to help brand their own video on-demand service, they have been struggling to reverse Blockbuster’s steadily declining fortunes since they purchased the ailing video rental chain in 2011. For the 3rd quarter of 2012, Blockbuster posted a $11.9 million operating loss.
It was a year ago this month that Dish announced a round of store closings, their first since the acquired the company in April 2011.
Honestly, I am not surprised that this is happening. The rise of Netflix and Blockbuster’s slow response in launching a competing service is generally recognized as the start of the company’s fall. It was also a lesson they did not learn from as their reaction time in delivering an alternative to the kiosk-based Redbox rental model came too late to make much of an impact. The rise of streaming services and now direct downloads only hastened the company’s growing irrelevance.
Unfortunately, there seems to be an air of desperation in keeping the few remaining Blockbusters open. It has been announced that the company is exploring a way to pull in more foot traffic through the addition of selling mobile phones and wireless services. If anything, it strikes me as that would only take shelf space away from the very thing that people still go into a Blockbuster for – video rentals.
I personally haven’t rented from Blockbuster in over a decade; the selection available through Netflix and other options have long since eclipsed whatever the local Blockbuster could offer. I can’t remember when I took my membership card out of my wallet and threw it away. The few times I have gone into a store to see if there were any treasures to be found among their Previously Viewed Discs for sale, I’ve noted the seeming increase in space being devoted to such things as candy, microwave popcorn, magazines and various movie-related tchotchkes, all at the expense of actual title selection in the rental section.