I came across this story on Yahoo the other day and it occurred to me how quickly the video rental store, and specifically Blockbuster Video, came and went. I remember how popular it was in the 80’s to stay home on a Saturday night after picking up the VHS tape from the local video store. There were actually lines to checkout.
According to Wikipedia, Blockbuster opened in 1985, peaked at 9000 stores in 2004, and filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Two things killed Blockbuster. One was Netflix. Netflix started taking off after 2002. And that was when you had to fill up your rental queue and wait two or three days for the DVD by mail. No Netflix instant!
The other was Blockbuster’s poor customer service model. I like many, were annoyed that my $2.99 rental would end up costing several times more because of late fees. The late fee rate was much higher then the rental rate giving a feeling of being gouged. Screwing your customers is seldom a good way to retain them – unless you are the only game in town.
This confluence of events – Blockbuster’s late fees, and Netflix’ new model is what I believed killed off Blockbuster. Do you remember Netflix advertising that there was never a late fee? So it was a flat rate of $20 per month vs who knows what at Blockbuster. After Netflix added online streaming, Blockbuster’s prospects became even gloomier.
Blockbuster had the titles and the customer base but lost out to Netflix big time. Had the company been managed better perhaps all our Roku boxes would be set to the Blockbuster channel.
Just out of curiosity I checked, and yes you can stream movies from Blockbuster. But there are some limitations. “Blockbuster On Demand” works on your PC or mobile device, some smart TV’s and some Blu-ray devices. Conspicuously absent is any mention of set tops such as the Roku or Boxee.
Well all good things must come to an end. Sooner than later when your’re really not that good.