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Physical Rental’s Smaller Footprint

22 Feb, 2013 By: Stephanie Prange

Years ago, my friends and I would go to the local video store without a particular title in mind that we wanted to rent. We would peruse the aisles of both new releases and catalog fare to settle on the entertainment for the evening. It was pretty much the best entertainment choice in town without traveling to the movie theater.

That practice is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Now, consumers go to the local Redbox kiosk after they pick up the groceries for dinner and quickly pick the most-recent release they can get from the limited selection — or scroll through the offerings available on such streaming services as Netflix and Amazon. What’s available determines how they will spend their evening, and — new releases aside — the widest catalog selection is online.

Recently, my family scrolled through the Amazon offerings, which seemed even more enticing, as most of the deep catalog titles were available at no cost. Obviously, because we pay the annual shipping fee from Amazon, the titles aren’t technically free, but among the no-additional-cost titles were several my family could spend an entertaining evening viewing.

Certainly, the most recent releases can be found at the local Walmart or other chain that sells discs or at a video store such as Blockbuster, which gets the recent releases ahead of services such as Netflix. But beyond the most recent releases, the physical rental store doesn’t have much of an advantage — and probably doesn’t need as big a footprint.

“[Blockbuster] stores are just too big for video-only product,” Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said during last week’s fiscal call, acknowledging that reality.

While it’s nice to have a knowledgeable clerk to guide you to an undiscovered classic, most video consumers these days will likely find something to watch via an impersonal scroll through a list. Progress? I don’t know. But it’s the reality.

The future video store may likely rent you the latest release as a side business to offering a Dish package or phone accessories — or physical rental customers will go to the video store with an even smaller footprint — a kiosk.

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