CNN Out of the Money on Video Rental Story13 Mar, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold
I’m still scratching my head about that recent CNNMoney story about the malaise of independent video rental stores. The essence of the story is that while Blockbuster may be struggling, the same “forces” that hurt the rental giant “may kill off the entire industry.” And what, pray tell, are these “forces?” “Mail-order DVDs and streaming online video,” according to author Maggie Overfelt. Oh, Maggie, Maggie, Maggie. For starters, streaming online video isn’t killing anything off, and mail-order DVDs are simply another aspect of the same industry you’re saying is on the verge of getting killed off, namely, the video rental industry. It’s like looking at the auto industry in the 1980s and saying the automobile is doomed because people are buying Japanese cars instead of American cars, and then throwing in public transportation as the final nail in the auto industry’s coffin. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And if business is down at the handful of rental stores you’ve surveyed, guess what—it’s the economy, stupid! Virtually EVERY business is off—and that isn’t necessarily an indictment of that particular business model, but, rather, a reflection of the times. The fact is, independent rental stores have been suffering for a good decade and a half, ever since Blockbuster and a handful other national chains first start encroaching on their turf. But the video rental habit appears to be doing surprisingly well, in a world where everyone is talking about an imminent transition to digital downloading—everyone, that is, except consumers, who continue to buy and rental DVDs and, increasingly, Blu-ray Discs.
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