The credits are finally rolling on Blockbuster's sad saga. The video rental chain, once a top tenant for shopping center landlords, will be out of the physical store business by early next year.
DISH Network Corp., which bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy protection in April 2011 for $320 million, said the brand 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, in a press release. "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.
Shopping Center landlords, wary of the video rental sector for years, had as early as 2005 stopped offering tenant-improvement allowances or even building new spaces for video stores. Most Blockbuster stores measure between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet. When DISH Network bought Blockbuster, it still had about 1,700 stores. DISH closed 500 of those stores in 2012, and then announced plans to close another 300 stores this January.
Over the past 18 months, Blockbuster has also divested itself of 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.