Dish CEO Joe Clayton announced on the company’s conference call Thursday that it planned to close another 500 Blockbuster stores in the first half of 2012, taking the chain down to around 1000 stores. He said the reasons included underperformance, footprint size, and lack of landlord flexibility. The chain was operating at break even in the most recent quarter, the third straight quarter of break even results since it was acquired by Dish last year (see “Judge Approves Blockbuster Sale to Dish”).
The video rental business in stores is shrinking rapidly, under attack from Netflix, video on demand, streaming services such as Hulu, and kiosks such as Red Box. Clayton said that the number of stores would eventually stabilize, but the primary value of the chain to Dish seems to have been the Blockbuster brand and customer list, which can be used to build Dish’s pay TV business.