Fade to black: Blockbuster's demise may be just a matter of time

Blockbuster is considering closing 960 stores as it tries to compete with new media formats and retail models, that's 20% of its store base potentially gone. Even with more rental kiosks planned, it's getting more difficult for traditional physical stores to compete.

Massive store closures have been rumored before and dismissed by Blockbuster's media relations department. But where there's smoke there's usually fire, and these documents filed with the FCC today are confirmation.

Movie rental locations used to be as common as convenience stores. But with the rise of streaming video, fewer people are renting discs. Even fewer still trek to the store. Netflix has taken hold with movie lovers and vending machines from the likes of Redbox are quickly taking market share.

And the worst is yet to come for Blockbuster. I have seen the future of television and that future is streaming video. TVs coming to market in the coming year are boasting online content from certain, pre-determined partners -- the most popular being Netflix.

Imagine a string of widgets, or icons, along the bottom of a TV screen much like a computer. Scroll through and select one with a remote control and get instant access to customized or online content. That's the next generation of TVs, and most manufacturers have negotiated deals with Netflix to get streaming video direct to the TV, bypassing a computer queue, hard disc and mailbox altogether.

Where does Blockbuster fit into this plan? Even replacing physical stores with 10,000 kiosks as planned by the end of next year doesn't go far enough. Blockbuster has an on-demand program but limited partnerships compared to Netflix.
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