Blockbuster US has become the latest in a long line of companies filing for bankruptcy. With huge debts and a need to restructure the business, given the huge competition in America, Blockbuster has made agreements with its creditors to cut its debts from $1 billion to $100 million. Blockbuster has suffered from mail-order and online film rental services, in particular in America.
Blockbuster is a worldwide phenomenon with stores ranging from the UK to Mexico. However, as legally separate entities, the non-US branches of Blockbuster are protected from the bankruptcy. While the UK branches will remain unaffected, there are concerns that they may suffer from a lack of new DVD stock, especially with the approach of Christmas.
As news of Blockbuster’s bankruptcy spread, Netflix – a key competitor – saw its shares soar. Netflix was a catalyst in the demise of Blockbuster US and it has seen its market share increase rapidly over the past few years, with subscribers increasing from 1 million in 2002 to 15 million in 2010. Blockbuster responded by ending late fees and started its own online services, but it has been unable to compete effectively in this competitive market. Although restructuring of Blockbuster has begun, only time will tell what the future is for this once dominant movie rental firm.
Blockbuster files for Bankruptcy in US BBC News (23/9/10)
Blockbuster fizzles in US, but renters overseas haven’t switched to Netflix – yet The Christian Science Monitor, Stephen Kurczy (23/9/10)
Blockbuster files for Chapter 11 protection Guardian, Richard Wachman (23/9/10)
Blockbuster wins Court’s approval to draw $20 million from bankruptcy loan Bloomberg, David McLaughlin and Tiffany Kary (23/9/10)
Fitch lowers debt rating on Blockbuster Bloomberg BusinessWeek (23/9/10)
Netflix shares hit high after Blockbuster bankruptcy Reuters, Sue Zeidler (23/9/10)
Debt, changing media habits topple Blockbuster The Associated Press, Mae Anderson (23/9/10)
- What are the key factors behind Blockbuster’s decline?
- New competitors have entered the market for movie rental. Illustrate this on a diagram. How can we use this to explain Blockbuster’s problems?
- Online services and mail-order have become increasingly popular services in this market. Is the extra competition in the market in the best interests of consumers?
- What type of market structure is the rental movie industry? Explain your answer.
- What type of legal structure does Blockbuster operate under? What are the key advantages and disadvantages of this?
- Why are the non-US chains not affected by the bankruptcy of Blockbuster US?
- Have a look at the share prices of Blockbuster and Netflix. What has happened to them over rthe past year? Is this consistent with recent developments?