Viacom Looking to Sell its Stake in Blockbuster

Viacom are hoping to sell their 81% stake in Blockbuster Entertainment, making the video rental giant an independent company.

Said Blockbuster CEO John Antioco: “We believe Blockbuster will compete very effectively as an independent company and that separation from Viacom will enable us to better pursue our unique strategic vision and significant avenues for expansion.”

But what does the future really hold for Blockbuster? They managed to embrace the move to DVD admirably, but many see renting DVDs a dead end. It’s no secret that there’s a slowdown in the video rental business: consumers would much rather use video on demand (VOD) if they could, rather than trudge down to the video shop on a rainy Monday night to return that copy of Three Week’s Notice that you didn’t get a chance to watch. With broadband coverage improving, speeds increasing, and pay-per-view services flourishing, then Blockbuster’s customer base will rapidly diminish.

Even if they did reinvent themselves as a VOD company, they will lose an important part of their revenue – it has been speculated that as much as 20 – 30% of Blockbuster’s income is comprised of late fees, and you can’t charge those on a stream.

Hoover’s on Blockbuster

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?