Dish Network To Close Remaining Blockbuster Retail Stores, End Mail DVD Service

In a move signaling the end of an era in the home entertainment business, the movie rental retailer Blockbuster will close its remaining stores and end its DVD-by-mail service. 

Englewood, Colo.-based Dish Network Corp., which owns Blockbuster LLC, said on Wednesday that it will end its retail operations and shutter the mail-order unit by January, closing down the last 300 United States-based company-owned stores, along with its distribution centers.

Franchised and licensed stores will stay open.

"This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment," Joseph P. Clayton, Dish's president and chief executive, said in a statement. 

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The long and slow demise of Blockbuster is a result of the consumer migration away from getting in the car and driving to the store to rent a movie in favor of accessing entertainment through streaming services such as Netflix or via video-on-demand from cable and satellite operators.

Founded in 1985, at its peak Blockbuster had close to 10,000 stores. It put smaller retailers out of business and gobbled up bigger competitors. In 1994, Viacom acquired Blockbuster and later spun it off in 2004. Dish bought the chain out of bankruptcy in 2011 with ambitions to turn it into a Netflix competitor. 

As recently as two years ago, there were still 1,700 Blockbuster stores.

Dish said it will retain licensing rights to Blockbuster's brand and its video library, and it will continue to offer its movie channel package, Blockbuster at Home, as well as its streaming service, Blockbuster On Demand. 

Shares of Dish fell by less than 1% to $48.57 in midday trading. 

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com