Blockbuster veni, video, vici

Giant retailer sees worldwide rise in rental revs

SYDNEY — As one barometer of the buoyant video biz overseas, Blockbuster Video’s international rentals revs shot up by 9.5% in the second quarter of this year after a rise of almost 18% in the first quarter.

“We saw a very solid performance from all corners of the world, Europe, South America and Asia — which further underscores the benefits of our global store footprint,” says Chris Wyatt, president of Blockbuster Intl.

The giant retailer has more than 500 stores outside the U.S., a mix of corporately owned outlets and franchised operations.

“The success of our performance internationally is also reflected by the introduction of revenue sharing in the U.K., Canada and Mexico,” Wyatt says, adding that Blockbuster is testing that financial arrangement in other markets.

Wyatt says DVD is growing quickly across most of Blockbuster’s Euro markets, and has reached 20% of the U.K. market. Moreover, he notes, customers with DVD players continue to rent VHS along with DVD.

While Blockbuster is causing a ruckus in the U.S. by telling the majors it wants to end rev sharing on VHS rentals, thus far there’s no indication the retailer will go down a similar path overseas.

One U.S. exec says that Blockbuster simply doesn’t have the clout in most international markets to bulldoze through changes to rev sharing even if it wanted to.

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