Blockbuster video-rental chain will shut remaining U.S. stores

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Blockbuster, the video-rental company now owned by Dish Network, will close its remaining 300 U.S. stores, ending an era for a retail chain that was once a hallmark of shopping centers nationwide.

Blockbuster will shut the outlets by early January and discontinue its DVD-by-mail service by the middle of next month, Englewood, Colo.-based Dish said Wednesday in a statement. The company will keep the licensing rights to the Blockbuster brand and use it with Dish services. It also has a video-streaming product called Blockbuster On Demand.

Dish, which acquired the chain out of bankruptcy in April 2011, had already divested Blockbuster's international assets, including operations in Britain and Scandinavia. The company has been gradually shutting down the 1,700 stores it acquired. When Blockbuster was owned by Viacom in 2004, it operated about 9,000 locations, before streaming video services such as Netflix devastated the industry.

"This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment," Dish Chief Executive Officer Joseph Clayton said in the statement. "We continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings."