In Porter's 5 forces model, the five underlying forces for an industry's structural attractiveness are the barriers to entry for new competitors, the intensity of rivalry among existing competitors, the threat of substitute products or services, the bargaining power of suppliers, and the bargaining power of buyers. In analyzing Blockbuster's business model and current position, it is evident that it faces issues in all five areas.
Barriers to entry
In the brick and mortar movie rental industry, Blockbuster is clearly the leader. With the merger of Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery, that leaves on two major players in the brick and mortar movie rental industry. Essentially, this has created many barriers for traditional mom-and-pop video stores to maintain consistent revenues or expand and open new stores, ultimately driving many out of business. In the early '90s, there were some 70,000 stores nationwide that rented movies, compared to 18,000 today (Graham). The appearance of a new brick-and-mortar competitor for Blockbuster is an unlikely event.
Online however, Blockbuster faces different circumstances. In general, the internet will reduce barriers to entry for new companies by eliminating the need for an established sales force and existing channels. In addition, the internet makes applications difficult to keep proprietary. The internet has allowed Netflix to enter and become the leader in the online video rental business. Netflix has lower proportional upfront capital requirements than a chain of traditional movie rental stores. In addition, its distribution centers can be built in low-cost areas, and current distribution centers can cater to distant customers until local penetration rates justify building new ones (Jackson). Netflix, along with smaller players Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, have all become Blockbusters major online competitors. As a result, Blockbuster has used this ease of entry fashioned by the internet to create Blockbuster.com, a site also providing rentals online.
On the other hand, Blockbuster does face significant barriers to entry into new technology markets, such as Video on Demand (VOD). Major cable and DSL providers have already invested billions to develop their networks. To provide true VOD, cable and DSL providers will have to continue to invest even more money on these networks. Blockbuster will need access to these networks, as well as means of delivery, in order to provide this service. Blockbuster also faces the issue of cable and DSL providers cutting their own deals with movie studios. If VOD continues to gain popularity and providers begin to cut out Blockbuster as a middle man, this could create even more barriers to entry into VOD.
Rivalry among existing competitors
The internet, as well as new technologies, are intensifying and creating rivalries between Blockbuster and its competitors. The internet has expanded the geographic market for movie rentals and also created new competitors. Netflix, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.com are all competing with Blockbuster for online customers. With this new competition, Blockbuster was also forced to try and keep its brick and mortar side of the business as strong as possible. This caused a fight between Blockbuster and Hollywood Video for the acquisition of Movie Gallery, a fight Blockbuster ultimately lost.
These rivalries have also migrated competition to price. Netflix had been advertising its $17.99 price for its most popular three-movies-out, unlimited rental plan. Once Blockbuster entered the online segment, it cut its price to $14.99 for its three-movies-out plan, and then aggressively advertised it online. Netflix then began advertising an $11.99 price on Yahoo and other sites for its service, a move that seemed aimed at Blockbuster's...