There is no single company that epitomises what has happened in the media industry over the past two decades better than Blockbuster.
The company had a central and dominant position in the movie distribution industry for nearly two decades, and then failed to adopt new technology and had a total failure of leadership.
By the time it did try to compete with postal (Netflix), virtual (iTunes) and local (Redbox), it was all too late and badly implemented. At the rights stage, it should have bought each of these usurpers, but it clung onto a redundant model, believing yesterday's tale.
There are some lessons here:
- Online relationships are clearly stronger than local relationships
- Brand counts for nothing when technology takes over
- There are few businesses in media that can stand still
- Constantly question not only your model, but everything about your business, from route to market to cost base
But, perhaps the biggest lesson is that you have to re-invent yourself constantly. Blockbuster could easily be worth a hundred times more than its current valuation if it had had a Board worth their salaries. Instead it's a basket case.
This is a situation that is coming, tsunami like, to the broadcast industry today. I only hope they'll take advice from those of us who know how to make sure they don't become the next Blockbuster.