No Matter Who Owns Blockbuster, It's a Joke

Like many others, I've been extremely critical of Blockbuster over the years. I've felt that the company has failed to see the changing times, and has generally lost all sense of what consumers are after.So, when Dish acquired Blockbuster earlier this year, I thought it might be a good thing for the formerly dominant rental firm. I thought that Dish could find a way to revive Blockbuster's ailing business model, and return it to a place where it would no longer be viewed as a joke.

But on Friday, after Dish announced its Blockbuster Movie Pass, it quickly became clear to me that no matter which company owns the firm, Blockbuster will always be a joke.

If you haven't heard about Blockbuster movie pass just yet, the service will allow customers to receive discs by mail, stream content to TVs and PCs, and watch on-demand movie channels for $10 per month. However, there is one catch: the service is available only to Dish customers.

It's that list tidbit that I find so, well, funny. Dish is trying to use Blockbuster (of all companies) to try and build its own customer base. And in the meantime, it's shutting itself off from capitalizing on Netflix's increasingly disappointed user base.

The trouble at Netflix started over the summer when the company announced that it would start charging customers $7.99 per month to stream content, and another $7.99 per month to rent DVDs by mail. After facing outcry, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings apologized this past week, and announced that he had spun off the company's DVD-by-mail business into a new firm, called Qwikster.

But even receiving that apology, Netflix customers aren't all that happy. They'll still need to pay the same sum for the content, just to two different companies. It was, at best, an empty apology.

With Blockbuster Movie Pass, Dish could have had the opportunity to coax those customers into leaving Netflix and joining its service. It could have very well been Blockbuster's ticket back to the top.

And yet, Dish failed to see that. Instead of being the next Netflix — something that many firms would like to be — it wants to see its satellite TV business grow.

Am I missing something here?

Blockbuster's story over the last several years has been nothing short of laughable. It's a story marked by poor management and missed opportunities. And with Dish, things aren't getting any better.

So, as we look at the next chapter in Blockbuster's story, I can't help but wonder what might have been.

For Blockbuster, it's another day, and another missed opportunity.

[Image credit: Associated Press]