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Blockbuster To Close Remaining US Locations 419

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-killed-the-video-star dept.
UnknowingFool writes "Blockbuster announced that it will close its remaining 300 U.S. locations by January and discontinue the DVD by mail service. Before being bought out by Dish, the chain was slowly closing locations. Dish's CEO said, 'This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment.' From an all-time high of 9,000 locations in 2004, the chain has fallen on hard times and had emerged from bankruptcy in 2011."
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Blockbuster To Close Remaining US Locations

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  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:27PM (#45348577)

    Blockbuster still exists?

    • That was the exact same reaction I had. I thought they died when they initially filed for bankruptcy. I had no idea they had emerged out of the other side.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Same here. Someone mentioned their local Blockbuster was closing a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd fallen through a time-warp.

        • I drive by a Blockbuster everyday I hadn't thought about it but I never see cars there and just went to their site to look it up on their store locater apparently it's already closed.

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            The one near me actually had cars. There were always several cars in the lot. As the only video rental in the area that made sense. Now it's closed though but not because it reached zero customers but because there were not enough customers to support maintaining the business versus selling off the building.

            This also does not mean ALL video stores are closing; just the Blockbuster stores. If you drive around you will find video stores scattered around, especially in poorer areas of cities, as well as th

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @07:44PM (#45351035) Homepage Journal

        Their business model was morbidly flawed; they started renting movies when tapes cost over a hundred dollars each, so four bucks to rent one wasn't a bad deal. But then tapes (and later DVDs) came down in price, Blockbuster's competitors had prices down to a buck a tape/DVD and Blockbuster acted like they held a monopoly. Hell, there used to be a Blockbuster right across from Family Video on 6th street here, with FamVid DVDs at $1 and Blockbuster DVDs at $4 and you could often BUY the DVD Blockbuster was renting for $4 at WalMart for $5.

        Meanwhile, there are still dozens of Family Video stores here in town, as well as lots of RedBox kiosks. Blockbuster was greedy to the point of mental retardation. No way can you rent a $5 or $10 or even $20 item for $4.

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      They closed a lot of stores, but many still remained.

      Until now. [queue the dramatic music]

      • They closed a lot of stores, but many still remained. Until now.

        Ironically, this mirrors the situation with the UK chain which just went bankrupt for the *second* time a little over a week ago, having first gone under in January and closed a number of shops. (I assume it was a legally separate and/or spun-off business of the US parent before it first went bankrupt, as this seems to have happened independent of the troubles of the US Blockbuster).

        I've no idea if any stores will remain open this time, but given that there was no obvious future for the chain when they *f

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:42PM (#45348747)
      Mine only closed about a year ago. It was replaced by a nice restaurant. Here's hoping everyone else gets a nice replacement.
    • by sfm (195458)

      I for one, say good riddance. Would rather pay 50% more than to EVER set foot in one of their stores again. Poor customer service and excessive late fees drove them into the ground as much as competition did.

      Maybe we will get a good Thai restaurant in that old Blockbuster location.......one can hope!

      • Hey I am hoping for a good Indian restaurant in to move into the location that use to be where blockbuster was. I figure it will only be a few more moths until the current occupant folds since there are already 3 other established mattress shops in town.
    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @05:25PM (#45349353)

      Think Rural. Get out in the sticks where your max internet speed is still 56k (and that's most of the country) and DVDs suddenly become useful again. I have a feeling that people in the Dakotas, Oregon, Washington state, etc... are going to be irritated the most by this.

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @05:33PM (#45349463)
        In the 'sticks' you press the 'on-demand' button on your DirectTV remote..
      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by slaker (53818) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @05:48PM (#45349681)

        Here in the midwestern US we have Family Video, which at one time also had pretty decent dialup service. All the local Family Video stores I'm aware of are still open, have free titles, rent most stock for $1 and have a porn section. As the last chain standing I'd say they did it right. I've been an eight-DVDs-at-a-time Netflix subscriber since 1999 but I'm glad the local brick and mortar store (not vending machine) is around. Sometime it's nice to just browse.

        • by lgw (121541)

          What really pisses me off right now is that Netflix is slowly killing their DVD business. Half the titles in my queue have become "short wait" this year, as Netflix stops buying replacements for broken discs. Very disappointing - I really like their DVD service.

          • by swb (14022)

            I've had a number of minor titles in my queue go to the "Saved" category with availability unknown, and ironically a couple that have done that but become available streaming.

            I'm not sure what drives the discs that were available that became unavailable, especially considering the number of discs that appear to be custom duplications for Netflix. I can only assume a disc that goes unavailable is out of print and Netflix does not have the rights to do a custom rental pressing.

    • Yep, it's right next to the Miller's Outpost, Thrifty Drugs, Egghead Software, Waldenbooks and Quiznos. Just past the payphones and Crystal Pepsi machine.
  • About time (Score:5, Funny)

    by KBehemoth (2519358) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:28PM (#45348583) Homepage
    They were supposed to close years ago. They never got the memo because they only communicate by telegraph.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:33PM (#45348619)

      The courier was afraid to go into the store. He had a VHS that was late.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TWiTfan (2887093)

      Yeah, one day you can tell your grandkids about what it was like to get DVD/blu-ray extra features like commentary tracks and making-of featurettes, and what it was like to watch a movie without seeing "Buffering" messages and heavy compression artifacts. Yep, streaming is so superior to those ancient physical discs alright.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I have not seen a buffering message in years. I have no interest in commentary tracks and the making of BS, but those are available more and more. The compression artifacts I see are far less noticeable than on cable TV.

        • I've been impressed with the quality of the streaming from Netflix. It rivals on demand and some of my cable channels.
      • by Mitreya (579078)

        what it was like to watch a movie without seeing "Buffering" messages and heavy compression artifacts. Yep, streaming is so superior to those ancient physical discs alright.

        Not to worry, your local cable company owned movie provider will have good quality streaming service which will not count towards your regular bandwidth cap.

      • by alen (225700)

        never had this problem with apple tv or streaming Vudu to my blu ray player

        if you stream over compressed pirated copies, that's your problem. i watch them too and buy some on blu ray since the sound is screwed up on the pirated copies

      • by egarland (120202)

        DVD quality is terrible. I don't have a blu-ray player. I may never.

        • by TWiTfan (2887093)

          DVD quality is terrible.

          Compared to what?

          • Re:About time (Score:5, Informative)

            by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:04AM (#45353225)

            The analog perfection that is VHS. Obviously.

            Seriously though, most DVDs and BluRays are absolute shitty encodes. Combine that with low-end equipment and you have overall poor quality with very visible artifacts like the infamous waterfall effect. I almost have a seizure watching Voyager on Netflix. That damn background in the medical bay is a wonderful example of such limitations.

            That's what you get with modern digital video formats. It allows for poorer performance and artifacts with lossy compression and non-perfect display software that has no problems fucking a frame or too or going half ass on the decode. Well mastered DVD/BluRay on appropriate equipment does not have this problem though. Unfortunately for most you are not going to find that at Walmart.

            So when you compare a DVD version against a VHS it's easy to see the lack of digital artifacts as an "improvement". Fuck. Compare it to LaserDisc? No competition at all. LaserDisc is still unreal compared to DVD. It took BluRay on high end equipment to finally beat LaserDisc. Stats may say otherwise, but real world performance is the best metric.

            Tl;DR : Not all DVD/BluRay masters are the same and the low end makes VHS look good by comparison.

      • Except that "rental" DVDs (labelled as such for years) specifically do not HAVE these features. The goal is "turns" and a D.C. means the customer will watch it a second time with the D.C. turned on.
    • It transmitted across the world at the speed of light, cutting days or weeks off pre-telegraph communications. Sundenny far off news was timely, instead of in the past.
      The telegraphs main problem was its small bandwidth of 10 or so bits a second.
  • My sister still likes going to the store and browsing. This is crazy to me.

  • Really sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:35PM (#45348647)

    I loved going in and buying the used flikcks; sometimes 4 DVDs for $20 or 2 Blurays for $20. I built up a nice physical collection which I much prefer to just files. If they shut down any local stores I'll make a point to be there early for the sell-off day.

    I guess I'm in that minority that likes the in-store experience and browsing shelves rather than clunky cable box UIs.

    • Re:Really sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:39PM (#45348721) Homepage

      I guess I'm in that minority that likes the in-store experience and browsing shelves rather than clunky cable box UIs.

      I'm with you on this one.

      I still buy CDs and BluRay disks by going to the store and looking at what's there. I prefer to have the physical thing, instead of some digital thing they can decide on a whim I no longer 'own' and can no longer use.

      Admittedly, I haven't rented a movie in years ... but I'm certainly not paying to rent it on-line and then pay my ISP for the bandwidth needed to stream it.

      I'm definitely not prepared to give up physical media.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        You have to remember that for a growing number of people this replaces cable TV. I don't rent anything, I just pay Netflix ~$20, they mail me DVDs and I watch whatever they have on streaming. So I replaced cable for a fraction of the cost.

        My ISP charges the same if I use my connection or not.

      • by zlives (2009072)

        yup still own my house too, and a couple i rent out and make money on... i guess i am a content provider :)

  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:36PM (#45348655)

    I realise I live in an 18th century house with '70s heating system and am dripping in Old Money, which means I have the best money could buy... 30-300 years ago, but have people really moved on that quickly that everyone today has an IP-connected TV in their living room with which to watch films?

    • For people without a fast internet, there's Redbox.
    • by afidel (530433)

      For the most part yes, or they have an HTPC\IP set top box, or a tablet, or a laptop.

      • But watching a movie on a tablet or a laptop is a horrific experience.

        Admittedly, I was born in a house with an attic which my uncle had turned into a proper home cinema... took the furnishings from a derelict movie theatre, even. I just can't imagine immersing myself in a 15" screen.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Not really, I do it all the time waiting for Drs and the like.

          You can get a $35 box to connect to anything with HDMI to do this.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          For big summer action movies or certain dramas, sure, a tablet won't be as great as the theater. But for most comedies and such, a tablet is no worse than a 27" CRT screen and a VHS from 15 feet away, like we were all used to in the 90s.

        • The tablet or laptop can be the network device, supply video to your entertainment system. Just connect the HDMI cable, and you're good to go. As an alternative, if you'd like to watch a TV show in bed (or on the porch, in the kitchen while cooking, or anywhere else that you don't have a large screen), then something mobile with a smaller screen can be better than nothing.

          For example, my wife sleeps before I do, but she likes to fall asleep next to me. A tablet on the nightstand lets me watch a TV show wit
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Yes, or they own a $35 machine that plugs into the TV for this purpose.

    • by alexander_686 (957440) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:44PM (#45348789)

      IP is not the reason why BB died.

      Netflix was hammering it from above with a deeper catalog and a reasonable price structure. Redbox was hammering it from below offering cheaper rentals on the new releases. That gave BB a very thin environment to live in.

      • OK, that makes sense... I haven't been in the US for a few years, and didn't know which alternatives had taken over.

        The UK has lots of subscription rental services by mail, but that's not the same as being able to PAYG rent a movie same day.

    • I have a fairly primitive media centre setup. Old iMac + NAS (running a BT client) + XBMC connected to a large LCD TV. I have a respectable catalogue of movies on my NAS, full access to Netflix as well as online streaming of current TV show. When we have friends over, they are blown away by my setup. Most thought they could only do streaming through their local cable or satellite provider.

      It's only going to get easier and easier for people to ditch their old-school ways.
    • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:54PM (#45348927)
      A large segment of the market is not watching their movies on the TV in the living room, or any other room for that matter. There is a huge generational shift to kids watching movies on a computer or tablet.
      • I think that's only because they control the tablet, and their parents control the TV. I don't see people choosing a tiny screen with terrible audio when they have the means for a better experience.
      • My son watches Netflix on his cell phone... talk about a tiny screen.

    • by Andrio (2580551)

      An "IP-connected" TV is just 44 dollars away. [amazon.com]

    • by alen (225700)

      i just bought a $99 smart 3d blu ray player from best buy. it does netflix, amazon, vudu, cinemanow and flixster along with dozens of other services and porn
      i also have an apple tv
      before that i used to own all three consoles from the last gen that streamed netflix and other services

    • If by IP-connected TV you mean a cheap laptop [amazon.com] and an HDMI cable, then...

      Oh, and it plays games too. Civ 5 in the living room FTW.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      IP-connected media players are under $100. It doesn't matter what your TV is, you get a media box and connect that. Much like a '60s TV will work over "digital TV" so long as you have a converter. Just about any PC will work as a media player, just hook up to your TV. You don't need a new TV to partake of the new content.
    • by AdamThor (995520)

      No, I have a computer in the living room plugged into the TV and stereo.

      And now with Raspberry Pi's and those little Android HDMI plugs wandering around setting up a living room computer is even cheaper.

      I wouldn't get a Smart TV.

  • The Reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:37PM (#45348687) Homepage Journal

    Dish's CEO said, 'This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment.'

    Oh, sure, blame it all on the consumers!

    Let's be realistic here: Yes, increasing consumer demand for instant gratification is part of the video stores downfall, but they're experiencing an equal amount of pressure from the content cartels, who have spent years trying inadvertently (or intentionally) to kill off the rental industry with their obsession over controlling how consumers can access media.

    Content cartels... like Dish Network.

    • by Faw (33935)

      To be part of the content cartel you have to produce content. Dish does not produce content.
      Anyway maybe now they can add Netflix/Hulu/... to their receivers

      • To be part of the content cartel you have to produce content.

        Not necessarily - one could also just own the rights to a metric shit tonne of content.

  • 17 years from now, someone will write a listicle mentioning that graduating high school seniors have never seen a Blockbuster Video Store.
  • I actually still like to go to one near my house. Call me old-fashioned, but I still like physically browsing, getting (some, not many these days) extras, and the better video quality of blu-ray over streaming.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:45PM (#45348793)

    It would be easy to say that Netflix killed Blockbuster, and certainly Blockbuster inflicted harm on themselves. Netflix did play a part but Blockbuster's problems come from a business model that came under threat from multiple fronts.

    Netflix challenged Blockbuster by offering both instant streaming and titles by mail services but mainly in older titles and TV shows. Blockbuster still had an advantage for consumers in new releases.

    Unfortunately, the rise of VOD competitors like Apple's iTunes, Amazon Instant, VUDU, Microsoft, etc offered consumers better choices when it came to new releases and offered advantages over Blockbuster. Even at the same price of a Blockbuster rental, consumers didn't have to physically get and return the title. Stock was never a problem, and the catalogs were better than a consumer could get at a Blockbuster's location.

    For consumers that could not stream video, Redbox has taken away the last advantage of Blockbuster. The prices are cheaper and even if the selection is as limited as a Blockbuster location, there are far more Redbox locations. Since Redbox's model allows rentals to be returned to any location, this means the death of Blockbuster in many locations.

    • Yes, I believe Redbox basically built itself a monopoly on the rental kiosks, for that matter. There were several independent firms selling vending kiosks (such as "DVDNow" systems) but everything I've read from people maintaining them says it's little more than a break-even proposition at best.

      The companies offering the independent kiosks try to profit off monthly fees charged for such things as fresh artwork designed to put on the kiosks to advertise the current offerings for rent, and for the bar-coded l

    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @06:58PM (#45350551) Homepage

      It would be easy to say that Netflix killed Blockbuster, and certainly Blockbuster inflicted harm on themselves. Netflix did play a part but Blockbuster's problems come from a business model that came under threat from multiple fronts. [..] Even at the same price of a Blockbuster rental, [VOD] consumers didn't have to physically get and return the title.

      This is true, but there's one important factor everyone missed (and I overlooked myself in the past until someone mentioned it)- the falling cost of DVDs over the past decade has often made it barely cheaper to rent instead of buy. With box sets, it's usually a no brainer- the equivalent cost of each disc is frequently below what most places would bother charging for rental.

      To be fair, this is less the case for the new-release blockbuster DVDs which Blockbuster specialise in (apparently, I'm never in there myself), as those tend to be still quite expensive when new. Even so, nowdays it's surprising how fast the retail price falls after this.

      Prerecorded videotapes were apparently massively expensive in the late 70s and early 80s, and even when prices on retail tapes had fallen it still made sense to rent if you were only going to watch it once. Nowadays? Not so much, if at all.

  • by schlachter (862210) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:46PM (#45348803)

    Blockbuster pushed out many of the independent video rental places. I wonder if some of them will make a come back, to fill what ever niche there will be for renting physical videos. Or maybe that niche just won't exist anymore.

  • That's sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Haoie (1277294) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:47PM (#45348825) Homepage

    I always find it difficult to understand the mentality of those cheering and saying good riddance that a long time business [even former giants of the industry] has failed.

    Hey, it could be your workplace next.

    • Hey, it could be your workplace next.

      If only.

    • Hey, it could be your workplace next.

      Um, I've been through enough M & As to know that businesses blow out all the time. I could care less, because it just means my commute and officemate wage slaves are going to change.

      Whenever I get the memo that we're merging with someone else, that's when I start updating the resume and putting out feelers.

      If I time it right, I can pick up the earlybird package before I leave for my next job, but if not, that's okay. The important thing is to get out before the

  • They went digital then they switched from VHS to DVD.
  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @06:23PM (#45350099)
    "This is all your fault!" cried the CEO at the press conference, pointing his finger at the crowd. "We asked you, begged you to rewind, but you wouldn't, you just wouldn't, I... " His voice trailed off, then his eyes rolled back as he collapsed onto the podium, then into a heap on the stage, the toppled-over mics blasting everyone's ears with feedback, then falling silent.

    .

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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