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Dish to Close 500 Blockbuster Stores
By Swanni 

Washington, D.C. (February 23, 2012) -- Dish Network today said it would close roughly 500 Blockbuster stores in the first quarter for everything from underperformance to footprint size to lack of landlord flexibility.

The satcaster, which purchased the video chain last year in a bankruptcy auction, had said recently that it would close all 'unprofitable' Blockbuster stores, but it hadn't disclosed a number until now. The closure will leave approximately 1,000 Blockbuster retail outlets in business and Dish acknowledged more could close in the future.

Dish CEO Joe Clayton, who made the disclosure in an analysts call today following the company's release of its fourth quarter report, said Dish will continue to try to 'leverage' Blockbuster with the satellite TV business. Dish now offers a Blockbuster disc/streaming subscription plan that requires a Dish subscription.

"Now our goal is to reach a steady-state (Blockbuster) store count so that we can leverage with our current pay-TV business and our future wireless enterprise similar to the way that we've incorporated Blockbuster at homes by mail and streaming services into our pay-TV business," Clayton said.


In the analyst call, Dish said the new Blockbuster streaming/disc rental plan helped reduce the satellite TV service's churn rate. But the company CFO Robert Olsen stressed that the Blockbuster retail business was still a work in progress.

As we have discussed before, we were able to purchase the Blockbuster assets at a far lower price than their previous book value. As a result, we saw lower-than-historical levels of Blockbuster cost of sales in 2011. This impact will diminish over time as Blockbuster's inventory is replenished with new content. So we still have a lot of work ahead of us to improve the retail stores," Olsen said.

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