Blockbuster Makes a Comeback in the Nordics

Established brands never die, they just come back in a new avatar. Blockbuster, a brand well-recognized in the US for video and DVD rentals, is making a comeback. But in the Nordic region, rather than in the US.

Danish operator TDC Group is launching a regional VoD service under the Blockbuster brand. Having acquired the Danish rights to the name in 2014, the operator rolled out a TV rental and electronic sell-through (EST) service under the Blockbuster name. Blockbuster (the old video rental service) had established its brand in Denmark, but without some of the negativity associated with it in the US for charging late fees. TDC wanted to use that recognition to help adoption of their fledgling VoD service.

In a previous interview with Clara Mai Kunstmann, head of OTT product development at TDC Group, she had mentioned the operator was planning to expand the Blockbuster service outside Denmark. (See TDC's Kunstmann on VoD in Denmark.)

"Blockbuster is very straightforward: Basically it's just for renting and buying TV series and movies. We are now building a new platform to roll out in Nordic countries and plan to launch before the summer. It's been in Denmark for one and a half years and picked up a lot of users, it's doing really well. Now, we'd like to extend it to the Nordic countries.

That launch has now happened: Blockbuster is being rolled out in Sweden, Norway and Finland, its CEO Casper Hald said yesterday, at the Nordic TV Summit in Copenhagen.

The Danish Blockbuster service lists a library of 9,000 movies from a range of international and local studios including Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony, SF and Nordisk Film. Users get content immediately after the theatrical release window, and can also purchase movies to keep, which accounts for about 20% of Blockbuster's revenue in Denmark.

TDC also plans to integrate Blockbuster into YouSee, TDC's OTT service. YouSee also supports multiple devices, but according to Kunstmann, the set-top box is the primary device for it. Blockbuster, however, is aimed at a broader variety of devices.

"It's very simple, and easy to use," according to Kunstmann. "That's the differentiator compared to iTunes and others. You don't need a specific platform, you can download the app and use it on the PlayStation or smart TV -- it's an easy user experience, not platform dependent."

In Denmark today, about half of Blockbusters usage is on PCs and tablets, while smart TVs and the PlayStation are also popular platforms.

The Nordics are in some ways a test bed for streaming services, with very high adoption of SVoD services and the highest household spend on OTT in the world -- four of the top five biggest OTT spenders are Nordic countries. (See Norwegians Are Biggest OTT Spenders: NRK's Distribution Chief.)

— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation

Michelle 10/4/2017 | 9:56:52 PM
Re: Act 2 Very interesting! It could be a study in branding and brand awareness. Thanks
242ak 10/2/2017 | 2:36:22 PM
Re: Act 2 Michelle - So apparently it's quite a strong brand in the Nordics, or at least in Denmark. Even though the business itself faded away, the brand awareness is high and generally favorable, according to TDC. Plus, it's very tightly linked to movies in terms of consumer perception, so they are quite happy with the value they've got out of it.
Michelle 10/2/2017 | 2:29:15 PM
Re: Act 2 I can't help but wonder-- > Why keep the name?
242ak 10/2/2017 | 1:55:04 PM
Re: Act 2 Michelle - To be fair, all that this service has in common with the stores is the name. No stores, no late fees, and owned by a Danish telco. It's a new world. 
Michelle 9/30/2017 | 11:28:46 PM
Act 2 I'm happy for blockbuster. It was sad watching the US rental stores close. 
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