Blockbuster, which had more than 9,000 retail stores across America just nine years ago, will close over the next two months the few hundred video-rental stores that it still has, the company's owner, Dish Network, said Wednesday in a long-expected announcement.
Dish, which acquired Blockbuster through a bankruptcy auction in 2011, after the retailer had already been decimated by digital video distributors like Netflix, said it still sees value in the brand name and will use it in limited ways.
But it will close all its Blockbuster locations — it says there are about 300 left — and the distribution centers that support a DVD-by-mail service.
The remaining Nebraska stores will close, a spokesman said, including the location in Omaha at 4004 N. 132nd St., in Bellevue at 3615 Summit Plaza and three stores in Lincoln.
After Blockbuster shutters its own stores, there will still be a handful left — there are 50 Blockbuster locations owned by third-party franchisees that are not affected by the announcement, although they are suffering from the same business pressures.
About 2,800 people who work in Blockbuster's stores and DVD distribution centers will lose their jobs, according to Dish.
Wednesday's announcement amounted to a surrender: A statement that Netflix, symbolized by its little red envelopes and more recently its streaming service, had prevailed over the little blue boxes that Blockbuster VHS tapes and DVDs came in.
“This is not an easy decision,” Joseph P. Clayton, the chief executive of Dish, said in a statement, “yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment.”
Dish still operates “BlockbusterHome,” a streaming film service for its satellite television subscribers, and “Blockbuster On Demand,” a competitor to the iTunes Store. Dish said it would hold onto the rights it owns for streaming content.
Blockbuster suffered an operating loss of $35 million on revenue of $1.1 billion last year and posted an operating loss of $4 million during the first half of this year, according to regulatory filings.
World-Herald staff writer Paige Yowell contributed to this report, which includes material from the Associated Press.