Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dish Network buys Blockbuster for $320 Million

Reuters is reporting that Dish Network, the U.S. satellite video service provider, was the winning bidder for Blockbuster in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Dish Network acquired Blockbuster for $320 million, of which $228 million in cash will be used to pay off the company's creditors (including movie studios) and bondholders. Blockbuster's total outstanding debt at the time of its bankruptcy was over $1 billion.

Dish Network gets a number of valuable assets as part of acquiring Blockbuster:
  • Blockbuster has more than 1,700 stores, many of which Dish will likely close. The remainder, however, will likely start selling Dish's satellite service, streaming video service and hardware to consumers. Dish won't have to compete for shelf space with any other vendors. (Update, April 21, 2011: In a Bankruptcy Court filing earlier this week, Dish Network stated that it plans to keep only 572 of Blockbuster's stores open, although that number is subject to change.)
  • Dish will become NCR's partner for its Blockbuster-brand video kiosks. To date, NCR/Blockbuster has done a poor job of competing with Redbox for locations, but Dish may give them access to new retail relationships.
  • Blockbuster's set-top box and streaming video programs have largely failed to make any impact on Netflix, but Echostar, Dish's sister company, builds set-top boxes and owns Sling Media, the developer of the Slingbox. Echostar could build support for Blockbuster's streaming video service into its set-top boxes, and build new designs that could compete with Apple TV, Google TV, Roku, Boxee and others.
  • Blockbuster has distribution deals with many of the major movie studios that gives it access to their DVDs and Blu-Ray titles 28 days before Redbox and Netflix. Dish could leverage those deals in a variety of ways, in a variety of channels.
  • The Blockbuster trademark itself is still very valuable, even though it's been damaged by the company's ongoing bankruptcy. Dish has the option of using the Blockbuster trademark, its own trademarks, or a combination of the two, depending on the situation.
In short, for not a lot of money, Dish Network dramatically expanded its potential market opportunity and channels of distribution.
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