If you collect DVD’s or video games, get ready to stock up. As I just read here (courtesy of Playback Magazine), Rogers is ceasing all of its national video rental locations. Like Blockbuster before it, Rogers has realized that the profits just aren’t there anymore when it comes to brick and mortar video and game rental retail locations.
Some of these questions might be entering your mind right now: “Where am I going to get my movies?” “Where do I rent video games from now on?” or, “Are they going to have a used copy of The Big Lebowski there for me to grab before they close?”
But, I’ll bet the more important (and likely) question is: “When was the last time I even walked into a Rogers/Blockbuster/Videotron store to rent a movie?” or rather, “Who cares?”
To answer the first question, I’ll bet it was a really long time ago. As Leigh-Ann Popek of Rogers stated, “We’re seeing that customers’ needs are changing…they want flexibility.” They have been for some time. And, the brick and mortar rental shop doesn’t offer that. It limits you to watching one movie on one screen in one instance (unless you hit pause for a while, of course). None of that moving from room to room, watching online or on your mobile device that certain TelCos are now offering (at a premium, of course).
Further signifying the fact that users don’t want to be confined to the limits inherent in available physical forms of media, Rogers plans on turning many of these locations into Fido, Chatr and Rogers stores for the continued sale of mobile devices. In case you doubted it until now, its obvious – mobile content consumption is going to be king.
The second question, however, is a bit different. Although you or I may not care about a Blockbuster or Rogers shuttering its windows, there are many others in Canada and the U.S. (myself included) who shudder at the notion of their favourite local film rental den being relegated to the pages of history.
This article (From Hammer to Nail: What We Lose When We Lose Video Stores) posted recently on IndieWire, laments the loss many feel as the retail rental scene dies a slow death as a result of on demand services and the continuing growth in piracy of film and television content. The writer of the article goes on about the experience of walking into his local shop (for me, it’s Suspect Video on Markham Street, in Toronto) and simply wandering through the racks of videos, exploring the random categories of film, obscure rarities, foreign oddities, and so on. It’s that experience which we are losing as the movie shop declines. I can’t imagine not being able to go into Bay Street Video when, after searching everywhere online and on-demand, I still can’t find a subtitled copy of Spirited Away – and, of course, finding they have it!
The problem, of course, is that most, if not all, on demand services, wouldn’t have had this title available. In fact, on demand services like iTunes, Rogers VOD, etc., don’t have many classic and/or obscure titles – films which form a part of our collective film history conscience, and also, are those films that we hear about so many times over the courses of our lives, yet never know exactly where to find. We just know we will find them and watch them.
It then seems that with the death of the video store comes the increasing difficulty (if not impossibility) of finding the rare classics (or new films) we always want to see, yet are never shown in the major theatres. Sadly, both are likely inevitable. The evidence, as today’s announcement proves, is there.
So, stock up on those rare B-films and vintage Japanese thrillers you’ve always known you could walk down the street to rent – they might not be there for long.