Cable MSOs Mediacom and Suddenlink have inked a co-branding deal with Blockbuster. As a result the two cable companies which serve primarily rural and small markets in the Midwest and South will rebrand their VOD service as Blockbuster. The new arrangement will begin in Suddenlink’s Charleston, WV and Mediacom’s Des Moines, IA markets.
In addition to the VOD rebrand, phase one of the partnership allows Suddenlink and Mediacom to promote their respective multiplay services inside Blockbuster retail outlets. Further down the line, Avail-TVN, Suddenlink and Mediacom’s VOD provider , may integrate some Blockbuster services, including DVD by mail and broadband rentals (which competes with Netflix) into the cable MSOs product portfolios. “This alliance highlights the power of the BLOCKBUSTER brand and further underscores our commitment to increase our multichannel presence through alliances that cross traditional boundaries,” said Kevin Lewis, SVP Digital Entertainment for Blockbuster.
Blockbuster needs the help. They’re getting killed on two fronts. The DVD by mail business is dominated by Netflix and Redbox is making great headway in the retail video rental business. Blockbuster announced recently it will have to close over 900 of its retail stores. They need to diversify quickly and see alliances like this as a way to rely less on their dying ‘bricks and mortar’ retail business.
For Suddenlink and Mediacom, use of the popular Blockbuster brand may help ignite VOD sales. “Many of our digital customers are not always familiar with the options they have with our new video on demand services. We think the well-known BLOCKBUSTER brand will help our customers get comfortable using our new VOD services,” said Jerry Dow, chief marketing and sales officer for Suddenlink. The retail footprint of Blockbuster, while shrinking, could also prove valuable as a sales channel for Suddenlink and Mediacom.
Time will tell if such an alliance makes sense. Blockbuster is a well recognized brand for sure, but its troubles are well documented and its long term viability is at risk. But then again, whose long term viability is not at risk these days. Personally, I’d be looking to align myself with a more emerging ‘digital’ brand like Netflix or maybe Amazon, assuming such brands are interested.