That the video rental store business model, in the age of on-demand and streaming, was a thing of the past has been apparent for about five years. But it didn’t become official until Wednesday when Dish, the parent company of once-dominant video store chain Blockbuster, formally announced that it will close the 300 or so remaining domestic Blockbuster stores early next year, as well as its DVD mail distribution service. The move brings a long-iconic American brand to an end.
The chain, founded in 1985, was the dominant force in the era of video stores, which ran roughly from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s, as “renting a movie” entered the lexicon and gradually shifted from VHS to DVD.
Independent, owned by Viacom, independent again, and then acquired out of bankruptcy by Dish in 2011, Blockbuster attempted, in the age of Netflix and Redbox, to re-invent itself as a DVD-by-mail and then streaming company, but those efforts failed. As the company closed its stores hundreds at a time over the last couple of years, the final death of the Blockbuster brand seemed only a matter of when.
Dish CEO Joseph P. Clayton commented on the chain’s demise in a statement:
“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment. 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.
Dish will retain the rights to the Blockbuster name as well as the video library. The Blockbuster name will also live on as part of the Blockbuster @Home.