Face it. The days of renting VHS and DVD (maybe even Blu-ray) are on there way out. Just recently, I arrived home from school for the summer and was upset to hear that the local Blockbuster had closed up shop, leaving no place to go to rent Jackass 2. Shucks. With the slow demise of brick-and-mortar movie rental stores (like Blockbuster, MovieWorks, and K & K) over the past decade, the present day marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
By the end of last year, there were a mere 5,800 video store across the country, just under a fourth of the total that existed ten years ago. With Dish Network's recent purchase of Blockbuster, there is no denying this number will dip below 1,000 by the end of the year.
So has the demand for renting movies dropped? No. It's risen actually. Online movie services from Netflix, to iTunes and Amazon have provided quicker, more convenient ways of watching movies online (if you're equipped and Internet-saavy enough of course). In a more physical form, video rental kiosks such as Redbox have become a nationwide hit with 50,000 locations in the US. Netflix provides mail-order DVD and Blu-ray discs to roughly 26.1 million U.S. subscribers and an "instant" online streaming video service to 23 million in North and South America, England, and Ireland.
We are a part of a generation where lots of folks are impatient and want access to the newest film titles instantly. People no longer want to wait a week or day (or even hours) for their movie to arrive.
There are a few issues that come along with this over-ambitious desire to watch movies instantly. First, customers are confined to what is currently on HBO, On Demand, or Instant Netflix. If something isn't available, they either have to wait for disc in the mail (Netflix), resort to buying or renting it online, or purchase the film at a local Wal-Mart or Target (if they have one). I don't know about you, but driving to the local Blockbuster to pick up a movie you want seems more convenient and timely to me. There's also something to be said for the immersive experience of picking up a movie and checking out it's cover before watching it. Or heck, you might even find something you weren't looking for.
This shut down of physical, first-hand experience, stems from the same root responsible for the recent closure of bookstores across the country, as well as the print media collapse: digitalization. It marks the end of an era, and the birth of an exciting, new-age, digital frontier -- and Silicon Valley is leading the charge.
From tablets and computers, to mobile devices, televisions, and game consoles, the instant access movie is something of the future; and with YouTube now joining the likes of Apple, Sony, Microsoft in the on-demand movie business, there's no denying that an interesting future lies ahead. Entrepreneurs across the country, I'm calling on you. Scratch the impatience ... what we need is more selection. If only Google could find a way to sell some popcorn or candy like they used to at Blockbuster ... I would be happy camper.