Blockbuster sees its digital future

March 25, 2009

Here’s the thing about Blockbuster: like other cultural icons, its synonymous with its service — renting movies from a local store.

Sure it does other things, rents video games, sells gadgets and point-of-sale popcorn, but most of us hear the name Blockbuster and do a quick mental check — “did I return that rental copy of “To Sleep With Anger”? (Ok, maybe that’s just me.)

But even with the spectre of looming debt, and market talk that bankruptcy might be an option it’s exploring (an idea the company flatly denied), Blockbuster is mapping out a future where Blockbuster = Movies (not so much on the “local store” part).

Its latest step on that path is a partnership that lets TiVo’s subscribers access (later this year) movies and video from Blockbuster on Demand. It joins TiVo’s roster of other video suppliers — Amazon, Jaman, YouTube, CinemaNow and Blockbuster’s archrival Netflix.

Although mentioned quietly as an aside in an Interview, Blockbuster executive Kevin Lewis also reiterated that Blockbuster is “enabling the Apple ecosystems” in its own services, which could someday mean a marriage of sorts between the video provider and the iPhone.

It’s too soon to tell if that is enough to help. But is that enough to withstand the onslaught of video available to a changing demographic that thrives on free video from myriad sources (some illegal). At least shareholders are pleased. The battered stock is up more than 17 percent today.

Then again, blogger Dan Frommer calls the TiVo-Blockbuster deal “insignificant.”

What do you think?

Keep an eye on:

  • Houston Chronicle lays off 12 pct of staff. (Houston Chronicle)
  • Facebook may tweak its layout… again. (WSJ)
  • Google top execs keep $1 paychecks (AP)

(Photo: Reuters)

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