Dish Network, parent company of Blockbuster
, announced on Wednesday that the video rental service would be ending both its retail and mail DVD distribution operations by early-January 2014. Blockbuster will close its roughly 300 remaining U.S.-based retail locations and distribution centers in early January. The Blockbuster By Mail DVD distribution service, set to expire in mid-December, will continue to serve existing customers until that time.
Even as actual Blockbuster operations cease, Dish Network will retain the brand name, as well as a number of its key assets. Among those are the company's video library, which Dish will leverage to strengthen its Blockbuster @Home service for Dish customers. It will also keep the Blockbuster on Demand
streaming service alive for the general market.
Once a powerhouse in the post-theater video rental market, Blockbuster's fortunes faltered with the rise of the DVD and worsened with the emergence of Netflix, iTunes, and on-demand services from cable providers. The company staggered on for a time, but it was eventually bought by Dish Network
in a 2011 bankruptcy auction.
At its height in 2002, Blockbuster had a market cap of $5 billion. The chain had 1,500 stores and 15,000 employees by the time Dish bought it for $320 million. It currently has about 300 remaining stores, and Dish plans to lay off as many as 2,800 of its remaining employees.