Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blockbuster Bankrupt?

Blockbuster video is looking into Bankruptcy protection.

The article cites NetFlix as the main reason, which makes me smile a bit. I don't actually like Blockbuster. Never really have. It's sanitary, overlarge, overadvertised, and just feels like the big company it is. Walk into an independent video store and you've probably got someone who has seen more movies you've never heard of than movies you've seen. They also tend to be a human "Amazon recommends" with just a couple questions about what you like. They have deals you won't find at BB - "rent any movie, get a documentary rental for free" just to push things THEY find interesting.

Sure, Blockbuster has decent sales on previewed movies, but even those have become paltry as they hold on to high prices for the "big" movies while dropping the dreck to the $6.99 shelf.

Plus, you have to get there. Walk, drive, whatever, it's still less convenient than movies showing up at your door.

Or better - right on your TV or computer or iPhone. Video on demand is probably a bigger killer of the brick and mortar rental business than NetFlix and its ilk. That's why they're pushing to have streaming media boxes and online viewing options. NetFlix might have a big warehouse or two, but they're still effectively a lean, fast-moving company that can change with their audience. Blockbuster is a slow-moving behemoth that has a bunch of people who don't "get it" at the top. Another dinosaur who will die because it didn't adapt fast enough or well enough.

Just look at their website, it's pathetic. There should be real-time tracking of availability at stores, online reservation capabilities, and other items that could draw people to their stores. Sure, they have a mail system, but the whole setup feels like a giant company just trying to catch up.

So, the big blue video store will likely restructure, come back swinging, and still get it wrong before succumbing and dying. To think, they almost bought Circuit City last May.

Could be interesting to see who goes first... Blockbuster, or Pier 1. Yah, they're in trouble too.

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