Keep Up, Blockbuster!

imagesIn the winter of 2011, I went to visit some friends in Copenhagen, Denmark. I walked into my friend’s living room, and to my surprise there was a Blockbuster DVD sitting on the living room table. Thinking Blockbuster had been left in the dust for a while now I was interested to know how Blockbuster was still in business given the large influx of people beginning to stream content. My friend explained to me that it was cheap and one of the easiest ways to get American movies in Denmark. I did not even realize that Netflix was not available in that part of the world and realized a lot of the streaming services were exclusive to mostly the United States with an exception of a few countries. In 2011, Netflix was probably not very popular in Denmark because a lot of the desired content was still “flat rate DVD by mail”. It was simply easier to walk to Blockbuster (which was just as frequently placed around the city as Starbucks in New York) than to wait for a DVD to arrive in the mail.

A video update from USA Today mentions the Blockbuster closing of retail stores. In the video, the reporter mentions that Dish network said, “This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video and entertainment…” Wheeler Winston Dixon explains in his book, Streaming—Movies, Media and Instant Access, “Netflix built its business model on delivering DVDs to the doorsteps of its customers; this effectively killed Blockbuster Video’s brick-and-mortar ‘go to the store’ model, just as Amazon did with books, thus wiping out a large number of independent bookstores, even large chains throughout the world” (Dixon 3). This “going digital” trend expanded through multiple modes of entertainment, putting traditional means of acquiring content in jeopardy.

The current Blockbuster site is called “Blockbuster On Demand”. The competition has forced Blockbuster into the digital and streaming realm of delivering content. Their site emphasizes that as a customer, you are able to “Watch Anywhere”, there is a “Huge Selection” of content, the video quality is “Stunning”, and that subscribing to Blockbuster is easy and all you have to do is “Get the app”. The Danish Blockbuster website is set up quite differently than the US site. The options for movies seem (I’m using ‘seem’ because trying to understand the site in Danish has proven to be quite difficult even with translation) to be available in stores and online. They have a section on the website where they encourage using tablet, smart phones, and computers to get content. What is interesting is that Blockbuster stores are still alive in Denmark.

ImageAnother reason why Blockbuster was still making revenue from Denmark and other parts of the world in 2011 is because the rates were still very cheap. Dixon explains, “Many of the most interesting classic feature films and television shows are absolutely free on such sites as Crackle. Video Buzz, and GoFree.com. Likewise, Hulu Plus, VUDU, and Blockbuster on Demand offer many foreign and independent films for minimal rental fees” (62). Although this is true to the now, the on Demand rates are lower. However, Netflix is one of the most popular and with the new Comcast deal, Netflix will be able to still dominate the streaming service industry.

Blockbuster, not unlike just about every other streaming service, uses Facebook and Twitter in order to market their streaming service. In keeping up with Netflix, Redbox, and other popular streaming services, Blockbuster has had to revamp their retail. Dixon writes, “Many Blockbuster stores throughout the United States have closed as a result of the swift move to streaming video, although Blockbuster now offers a streaming service of its own… Blockbuster is finding it difficult to adjust to the new consumer marketplace” (93). In order to keep up in the race to be at the forefront of the digital age, Blockbuster has had to conform. Throughout the semester we have discussed the many challenges different companies have had to face in order to stay in business at the turn of the “rise of digital”.

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