Dish closing 35% of Blockbuster stores

300 to be closed, but satcaster stands behind brand

Blockbuster will shutter another 300 of its stores, or 35%, as parent Dish Network seeks ways to breathe new life into the video rental chain.

The closure over the next several weeks will target struggling locations or those with leases winding down. Overall, 3,000 employees will be affected by the move, which will leave Blockbuster with just 500 stores in the U.S., after boarding up 500 stores last year.

Competing with subscription-based streaming services, kiosks and cable VOD, brick-and-mortar rental stores saw sales fall a staggering 24%, although they still generated $1.2 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

Blockbuster isn’t just hurting Stateside. Company is closing another 160 of its 528 stores in the U.K.

Dish purchased Blockbuster in 2011 for $320 million and continues to stand behind the brand, which it sees as an opportunity to grow its VOD business among Dish’s 14 million satellite TV subscribers.

In December, it launched a revamped Blockbuster app to enable customers to browse a catalog of more than 100,000 movie and videogame titles, manage their Blockbuster By Mail queue and check for availability of the newest releases at their local Blockbuster store.

Blockbuster already had a streaming app for videos.

But Dish is eager to get more customers into its remaining Blockbuster outlets and has considered expanding into sales of mobile phones and wireless services.

At this month’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Dish CEO Joe Clayton said the company was still exploring whether to launch that business.

Dish “continues to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we continue to analyze the store-level profitability as we have in the past,” said Dish spokesman John Hall. “From the time of acquisition there has been a strategy to evaluate stores on a case-by-case basis in an effort to look at their production.”

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