Blockbuster’s disc-based movie business is scheduled for termination. The remaining U.S. retail stores are set to close by early next year.
Parent company Dish Network said the final 300 stores will close by early January. Dish is also shutting down Blockbuster’s DVD-by-mail service in mid-December.
“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” said Joseph P. Clayton, Dish’s president and CEO, in a statement.
Dish will keep using the Blockbuster brand for other video services. Dish satellite TV customers can tack on a Blockbuster @Home subscription, which adds 15 movie channels and streaming to other devices. For non-Dish subscribers, the Blockbuster-on-Demand streaming-video service will remain available through PCs, tablets, phones, Rokus, and other devices.
Blockbuster retail stores aren’t dying a complete death, either, as franchised and licensed locations will remain open in the United States and abroad, the company indicated. It’s unclear how many of these franchised locations are left in the United States.
Dish acquired Blockbuster in 2011, after the rental chain had filed for bankruptcy. By that point, the chain had already been ravaged by nimbler competitors such as Netflix and Redbox, but there was much speculation about Dish potentially reviving the stores and turning them into showrooms for Dish services.
Last year, Dish’s founder and then-CEO Charlie Ergan revealed that he wanted to turn Blockbuster into a Netflix rival, bundling streaming video with a mobile-broadband service that Dish planned to offer. But Dish’s wireless plans apparently fell apart due to regulatory hurdles, leaving Blockbuster’s stores with an uncertain future.
With the closure of the last remaining stores, it looks like Dish is just trying to pick up the pieces and squeeze some value from the Blockbuster brand online. Still, there’s no shortage of competing services on that front, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Redbox Instant on the subscription side, and iTunes, Google Play Music, and Amazon Instant Video on the pay-per view side.
With or without a retail presence, Blockbuster’s days as a movie-rental juggernaut are long gone.