Blockbuster to close stores, end movie-by-mail service

Netflix for the win.

Blockbuster, the once-dominant movie rental chain that coined the slogan, “Make it a Blockbuster night”, will end its retail and DVD delivery operation by January 2014.

The announcement Wednesday from parent DISH Network brought to a close the long, slow decline of a company that has struggled to compete in the age of streaming video.

Approximately 300 Blockbuster locations remain in the U.S., a far cry from the 9,000-plus the company once operated worldwide in its heyday.

DISH did not disclose how many employees would be affected by the closures. The company has been closing stores since taking control of Blockbuster in 2011.

In a statement, DISH said it would retain the rights to the Blockbuster brand and focus on its Blockbuster @Home movie channels and on-demand streaming service.

Founded in 1985 in Dallas, Blockbuster’s popularity rose as the VCR became a household fixture, and a mid-90s merger with Viacom established the company as the country’s premier rental chain.

For a time, it was so popular that it had its own awards ceremony, the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.

Despite embracing DVD and later Blu-Ray, Blockbuster’s business model began to show cracks toward the end of the last decade, when movie watchers turned to DVD-by-mail service Netflix and its burgeoning online video service.

Blockbuster competitor Hollywood Video ceased operations in May 2010 when its parent company, Movie Gallery, filed for Chapter 7.

Blockbuster itself would file for Chapter 11 months later, citing massive debt and lost business due to up-and-coming streaming video companies.

While DISH Network has pledged to keep Blockbuster’s on-demand service intact, it is still available on far fewer devices than chief competitor Netflix.

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