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Blockbuster Lives On in the U.K.

27 Feb, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The nine lives of Blockbuster Video continue.

Dish Network’s three-year ownership of rental icon Blockbuster may have resulted in a cumulative net loss of $91 million through the end of 2013, and the closing of 300 corporate-owned stores in the United States, but the brand could be paying dividends going forward.

That’s because Dish a few weeks ago quietly licensed the Blockbuster brand to Crash Entertainment Group in the United Kingdom. CEG, which operates Internet-based radio stations in the region, said it would re-launch Blockbuster retail and by-mail disc distribution operations by late 2014. The company said it would open approximately 10 stores and rebrand its 5 Crash Entertainment stores in Isle of Man to Blockbuster.

Blockbuster U.K. at one time was Blockbuster’s second-largest retail operations, employing more than 4,000 people and operating 528 stores at the beginning of 2013. The chain subsequently entered into two “administration” proceedings — the equivalent of bankruptcy in the United States.

"This is good news for Blockbuster customers in the U.K., as consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment," Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said in a Jan. 31 statement. "Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings."

Dish retains ownership and licensing rights to the Blockbuster brand, and key assets, including the company’s significant video library. Dish recently sold its Blockbuster operations in Mexico, and licensed the brand to a cable operator in Denmark.

Indeed, the Blockbuster brand, which was listed as a $8.9 million “discontinued asset” on Dish’s books at the end of the fiscal year, continues in the U.S. primarily as “Blockbuster @Home,” the satellite operator’s subscription streaming service (for Dish subs) touting 10,000 movies and 25,000 TV shows.

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