TORONTO - Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) has officially bailed on the video store business.
In December, the company announced it was shuttering 40 per cent of its video shops as it continued to move away from selling and renting physical copies of DVDs, Blu-rays and video games.
"It's a declining marketplace, all we're doing is meeting market need," Sian Doyle, Rogers's vice president of retail, said at the time, and added that the disappearance of more than 400 Blockbuster stores last year did little to boost its rental business.
On Tuesday, Rogers confirmed its more than 90 remaining video stores stopped renting movies and games late last week and are now in liquidation mode.
"We're just refocusing our retail offering and so at those locations we're going to be investing in infrastructure," said spokeswoman Leigh-Ann Popek.
"Some stores are going to be repurposed, some are going to be repurposed and/or relocated to better real estate. The plan is we're going to be opening at least 30 new stores in addition by the end of the year."
The existing rental outlets will be revamped to serve Rogers' other businesses, such as TV and wireless services.
As far back as 2005, Rogers had been signalling that its video business was in decline.
And in February, the company reported its video operations lost $23 million in 2011 on revenues of $82 million, which were down 43 per cent from the previous year.
Quebecor still operates a chain of video stores under the Le SuperClub Videotron brand in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, and the Jumbo Video name in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island.
Where Else Can Canadians Get Movies:
Google-owned YouTube announced at the beginning of September that it's entering the Canadian streaming movie market with a selection of more than 1,000 movies ranging in price from free to $4.99. The venture is expected to ruffle the feathers of Canada's telcos, who themselves are trying to capture the streaming movie market.
Netflix had delivered more than 1 billion movies by mail to U.S. customers before it began offering streaming movies to Canadians in the fall of 2010. The service offers customers unlimited viewing for $7.99 a month, and movies can be streamed to your TV, Nintendo Wii or other digital devices that connect to TVs. The service was initially criticized for having a lacklustre selection of films, but Netflix spokespeople say the movie roster is being updated all the time.
You may have never heard of Zip.ca, but the Ottawa-based company boasts of being Canada's first indigenous online DVD rental company. The company ships movies by mail, in much the same way Netflix does in the U.S. Zip.ca offers a variety of monthly plans, ranging from $10.95 a month if you rent one video at a time, to $49.95 to rent up to eight videos at once. Alternatively, you can stream movies to your TV or computer for as little as $1 per flick.
Many manufacturers of TV-connected consumer electronics are beginning to offer streaming movies to their customers. Sony's PlayStation 3 recently launched its Vudu streaming movie service, but for the time being it's only available to U.S. customers. PlayStation-wielding Canadians can still use their PS3 to stream movies from Netflix, as can owners of the Nintendo Wii.
Cable TV companies are busy carving out a share of the streaming movie market with on-demand services through your digital cable box. Compared to some streaming movie services that offer monthly flat fees for rentals, the cable companies' on-demand options can be relatively pricey. But the convenience of ordering movies with your cable remote is likely enough to win over some customers.
If you don't want to pay for any of the conventional movie services, you can always download them illegally through BitTorrent file-sharing applications. Thousands of movies, new and old, are readily available if you're willing to take on the potential legal consequences. In the U.S., copyright holders are launching massive lawsuits against file-sharers, but many of those have been tossed by the courts. Lawsuits are rare in Canada, where file-sharing is in a bit of a legal grey area. But given that most high-speed internet connections now have a monthly usage cap, you could end up paying for you "free" movies anyway if you download too much.