Blockbuster Bows Out

Last season on South Park, there was an episode titled "A Nightmare on FaceTime" in which Stan's father Randy decides to buy a Blockbuster franchise, thinking the investment will make his family rich. The deal unfortunately doesn't work out for Randy, who slowly goes crazy, maintaining the idea that Blockbuster will pay off for him despite the lack of support from his family and the lack of a single customer in his store.

His family was right. Dish reported earlier this week that it will be closing the rest of its 300 company owned stores by the end of the year, and cease operation of its Blockbuster DVD Mail service by January. Independent Blockbuster franchise owners can theoretically continue to operate; however, with Dish also shutting down all of its DVD distribution centers, these independent franchise owners would most likely find it too costly to acquire new content.

The small ray of hope for Dish is its online streaming service, Blockbuster on Demand, which the company will continue to operate. While Netflix and Hulu have wiped out Blockbuster's brick and mortar operations, Blockbuster On Demand has the potential to gain ground if if it can poach subscribers from competitors through better content.

The company has been on a sharp decline over the years with the rise in popularity of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The L.A Times reports that even just two years ago, there were as many as 1,700 stores operating.

Overall, I am just surprised Dish decided to keep Blockbuster going for so long. Even if Netflix or Hulu isn't your cup of tea, Microsoft and Sony offer rental services on their respective Xbox and Playstation platforms for much cheaper than physically renting a DVD; the ease of streaming content makes physical media cumbersome. Online streaming websites makes content even faster to find and free to watch; a TV show or movie generally goes up 20-30 minutes after the show airs or a digital copy is released. Although Dish only purchased Blockbuster in 2011, the fact that it's waited this long to shutter the company clearly shows that Randy's delusions in making a profit were not just something Matt Parker and Trey Stone made up for comedic effect; the sentiment was felt amongst the executives at Dish, a bet that turned out flat wrong.

-Aureen Sarker (Photo Credit: Dish)