Blockbuster Video to close 300 U.S. stores by 2014
Customers shop at a Blockbuster video store on Jan. 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. [AFP]

Blockbuster will close the last 300 of its own US video rental stores by January, its parent firm said Wednesday, after consumers shifted en masse to streaming services like Netflix.

The company said it will continue to support Blockbuster's domestic and international franchise operations and retain the rights to the brand and its video library.

Dish Network, which bought Blockbuster at a 2011 bankruptcy auction, said the stores and distribution centers will be closed by early January.

?This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,? said Joseph Clayton, Dish president and chief executive officer.

?Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.?

The Blockbuster By Mail service will end by mid-December, according to Dish.

Once a network of more than 7,200 stores in the United States and 17 other countries, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010 with a billion dollars in debt.

Dish bought the group for just $320 million.

Over the past 18 months, Blockbuster has sold off some stores in the United States, as well as operations in Britain and Scandinavia.

It will continue the Blockbuster @Home service which competes with Netflix and others and can stream to PCs, tablets and other devices.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]