Give me convenience, or Give me Death to Blockbuster! Really?

netflix_blockbuster2I have read some recent Blog posts and news pages alike that predict the imminent demise of Blockbuster Video, THE chain of all movie rental chains, the great beast that knocked out all mom and pop video rental shops some time ago and completely took over the home video rental market. It seems they are taking a serious beating from the king of online rentals, Netflix, and video on-demand. According to CNN in an article awhile back, between 2001 and 2005, Blockbuster posted five consecutive years of net income losses. In 2006, Blockbuster eked out a tiny net income of $54.5 million on revenues of $5.46 billion. This isnt exactly small change we are talking about. In its place, video stores have been replaced with the "more convenient" alternatives of online video rentals and video-on demand. Customers can click and choose on just about any title that is in print and have it shipped to their door. I have been a Netflix user on-and-off for quite some time now, and I must admit, it is convenient. At 8-14 bucks a month, it is a real value. As a Comcast subscriber in the past, I too have enjoyed video-on demand. You cant really get more convenient than that. But then again, episodes of Silver Spoons and the 1983 movie Krull may not be your preferred form of entertainment. Most free video-on-demand titles tended to not be your summer blockbusters of the year. Still, entertaining nonetheless. The new gadgets of late have been the streaming devices like Apple TV. A friend of mine is a serious, bleeding-edge gadget techie- He has a streaming media server in his home: pretty hardcore. He basically sold me on the Apple TV, and it first, it was really cool. Downloadable movies, TV shows, podcasts, etc. Basically an iPod for your TV. The downside is, I don't have the steroidy internet connection he has, so, I had to wait for long periods of time to see content..And even then, movie dialogue streamed from the Apple TV tended to have a "Shatner...like.......delivery", due to hiccups in my more meager Wi-Fi connection. The newest convenient gotta-have solution is the Netflix streaming app for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. Now, I must admit, this is pretty cool. Like the Apple TV, this requires a broadband connection to work, but it works much smoother than Apple TV ever did. Sure the picture quality isn't quite as good, but it hiccups far less, and is totally watchable. Ill take heavily compressed and watchable any day over pretty but stutter-ey. The problem here is selection-As the service is practically brand new, selection is miniscule. I found myself passing over titles that just didn't seem that appealing only to find the selections starting to repeat from the beginning. And of course, they had Krull. So what did I end up doing last night to get a movie that I wanted to watch? Did I have it in my Netflix cue? Sure, but it wasnt in my hand. Was it available on-demand? not on my setup. Did Netflix streaming have it? No. So, I did what I suspect most people still do after all these choices fail to deliver- I went the the neighborhood Blockbuster. Do I really want Blockbuster to not be around? Not really. They are far from perfect, on the expensive side for sure, but I find myself going there more than Id like to admit. Im sure more of you out there do the same. Even those dollar-a-day dvd kiosks are consistently out of stock of recent titles. So unless you happen to NOT want to rent "The Proposal", you may find your selections to be of scarce supply. So if it came down to it, I would have to say that Im not quit ready to do away with the video store completely just yet. Even the evil Blockbuster still proves to be convenient, and so Im wondering if all these stories of their imminent demise might be a tad premature. I suspect so.

3 comments

  1. Good post
    Very good post – i’m creating video about it and i will post it to dailymotion !
    if you wana to help or just need a link send me email !

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