5 Things That Could Keep Blockbuster Alive

The beginning of April 2011, marked a huge turning point for video rental giant Blockbuster. The company was auctioned off to Dish Network after Blockbuster creditors were unable to agree on restructuring plans stemming from their September 2010, bankruptcy.   While not much has changed within the stores and services, the May 2, 2011, announcement of newly appointed Blockbuster president, Michael Kelly, serves as the start of a new era for both companies. Blockbuster has the opportunity to be the success story people learn about only in business courses!

Michael Kelly previously served Dish Network as the Executive Vice President of their Commercial Services division as well as their media and direct sales group.  The leadership and sales experience has served Kelly well at Dish, but how exactly will that play into the new Blockbuster?

The new face of Kelly at Blockbuster brings hope that fresh ideas will be thought, implemented and successful. But what exactly are those ideas going to be? It is clear that changes need to take place at Blockbuster if Dish Network plans to keep another bankruptcy from happening. Below are five things that could help Dish Network rehabilitate Blockbuster back to it’s full potential.

1. Streaming Video

The introduction of streaming video in the movie rental industry is an introduction that changed the industry. With the digital age upon us, we have become accustomed to “must have now” mentality.  Customers often look to the ease and appeal of streaming video versus the, sometimes, challenge of packing up the car and heading to the video store. It is easy to see that Netflix has such a stronghold on it’s customers because no one else comes close to offering streaming as they do. All three major video game consoles(Wii, Xbox, PS3) have the ability to stream Netflix. So why is Blockbuster so behind on the times? The technology is here and has been for some time now. It is high time that Blockbuster throws their hat into the ring and gives Netflix a real challenge. Without streaming video, Blockbuster is going to struggle to stay afloat just as greatly as before.

2. Lower Prices

Everyone is trying to save money these days. For some, that means renting a couple movies for 10 bucks as opposed to heading to the theaters to see one movie at 10 bucks a person. Though Blockbuster has recently changed their pricing and rental policy, it may not be enough to keep customers from seeking other means of entertainment. Perhaps revisiting a past promotion for “Family” and “Kids” movies is in order. In the past, Blockbuster has offered “Family” and “Kids” movies for 99¢. With a price like that, parents were able to get a movie for themselves while stocking up on family favorites for the weekend, all without breaking the bank. Currently, a movie in the “Family” or “Kids” section can cost the same as “The Social Network” which just released to DVD in January 2011.

3. Revamp Blockbuster Online

Did you know that Blockbuster Online offers Blu-ray and video game rentals at no extra charge? The perks of Blockbuster Online are far greater than the perks of Netflix, but nobody seems to be aware. As is, the Blockbuster website doesn’t even make it easy to find and sign up for their online services. It’s no wonder customers don’t know they can cut the wait time in half for the next movie in their queue by returning their online rental at the nearest Blockbuster. Heck, customers probably don’t know that they can exchange their online movies for in-store rentals up to five times per month. Meanwhile, with Netflix, you have to wait. However, when comparing the pricing of Netflix to Blockbuster, not knowing these things can certainly make Netflix seem the way to go. Add into account streaming movies, and Netflix wins every time. Wake up Blockbuster!

4. Update Stores

Aesthetics matter. Sure, updating every single Blockbuster out there may not be financially feasible right now, but something’s gotta give. There’s nothing like walking into a store that looks clean and updated. When customers walk into Blockbuster, it’s no different. General housekeeping can only help so much when enamel is peeling from the counters, cabinet doors are hanging off their hinges and registers look like they’ve been taking a beating since day one. As the last great brick and mortar video rental store, take some pride and invest in a mini-makeover.

5. Better Marketing

Yes, Blockbuster had some very crafty commercials for their “28 Day” campaign. Other than that, though, what else have they been doing? Why is it that almost every website has an ad or pop-up for Netflix? For a company that has been in the business for so long, how are they so behind the times? Having barely put up a defense against Netflix, Blockbuster needs to change up their plan and go on the offense. Take out ads on Facebook, bolster pop-ups, take a stand in marketing and inform the customers that you’re here to stay.

Ultimately, Blockbuster needs to recognize that what they’ve been doing hasn’t been working out for them. Blockbuster is a well established business that hasn’t experienced substantial change since August 2004, when they introduced Blockbuster Online. It’s time for change, and Michael Kelly is going to be just the man to initiate it. No matter the form, how well received change in the company is may make or break them, for good.


Rachel Torres is a business writer with Landmark Report and an expert at predicting corporate trends and analyzing business news and announcements. She is a former employee of the Blockbuster Corporation and lives in New Jersey.

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5 Responses to “5 Things That Could Keep Blockbuster Alive”

  1. Prudy says:

    i'm a member of both Blockbuster by Mail and Netflix. i use the mail rentals mainly for old movies (like 1920s thru 1950s), which Blockbuster often lists as Short Wait or Long Wait or Realllllly Long Wait. I've had movies listed as short wait for over a year at the top of my queue. i don't think i have *ever* gotten a waitlisted film. i still have hope they'll come one day, but on the Long and Extra Long, i've given up hope. Their rating system which uses both 1/2 and full stars is better than Netflix, as is their extensive, complete listings of an actor/director's work. Just wish i could get more of them.

    i use my in-store trade-ins for current movies. but blockbuster greatly diminished their value there for me, an avid commentary viewer, by agreeing with some studios to only carry "rental" versions that are stripped of their extras and commentaries. i understand studios are thinking they don't want rentals to be as valuable as purchases. i buy a lot of dvds, but generally only after i have seen the film…and commentary. i can't remember ever purchasing a dvd just for its extras. (though i will buy/rent the one with extras over the one that doesn't have them.) that's one way blockbuster can get me to come into their store as well—to rent dvds with commentary–because you can't get the commentary on streaming video. why trudge over to the store, when it's easier to just stream from netflix and not worry whether it would have commentary at blockbuster. bring back the commentaries and extras on the in-store dvds!

    i too hope that blockbuster gets its act together. it's nice to have a video store nearby. it would be a shame to see them disappear.

    (by the way, i had no idea their bluray disks didn't cost more. i could have sworn they did. either way, it's a good indicator that they need to do better marketing on such things.)

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