It wasn’t even that long ago. Walking in, membership card in hand, for a lovely movie night. Friends were over, the movie was picked. All that was left was to grab an array of tasty sweets. This wasn’t just tapping on a screen because you fancied watching Thor; this was an event to get excited about, all from the comfortable surroundings of your own living room.
Blockbuster soon saw the oncoming storm and started an online DVD delivery service. A flat fee per month and you’d get several DVDs in the post. All you had to do was post them back. Before transforming into an on-demand powerhouse, this was the Netflix way.
Just before the administrators came in – this month, to be exact – that service was still being run from their website. It was amazing. Having used Netflix for close to a year with their offering of unlimited streaming of hours upon hours of high to low budget films and TV series, the notion of just having a few DVDs a month to enjoy for the exact same price all relied on by post seemed as outdated as Betamax.
And it all could have been so different. Blockbuster could have become what Netflix is today, but it wasn’t to be. Beyond; retail has been bruised by the internet but is quickly finding its feet offering a unique selling point the web could never hope to compete with – an incredible shopping experience. Urban Outfitters, Avoca and more have shown how creating a destination point for shoppers develops loyalty and can drive sales. Even here on Blockbuster’s home turf, however, they just didn’t change.
Now, in the UK, 452 jobs are to be cut and 72 stores closed. It’s a tough time for all entertainment shops. HMV and Game/GameStop are struggling. A small mercy was granted when the new Xbox One made clear it wouldn’t throw physical media under the bus, but with the direction technology is taking, it’s simply a stopgap.
Really, the demise of what was once an institution has been a long time coming, but it’s yet another warning siren to those still propping up old models.