Film and TV

Blockbuster's Head of Digital Strategy Isn't Afraid of Apple, Netflix or Bankruptcy

The only person more obsessed with the fate of downtown-based Blockbuster than I is Fast Company's Austin Carr, who's spent the last two days posting an extended Q&A with the company's head of digital strategy, Kevin Lewis. Yesterday's interview was the more provocative of the two parts: Lewis went after Apple for being so damned proprietary ("I find it unconscionable that Apple forces you to buy their hardware and their content from a single provider in order for it to work") and Netflix for its admittedly underwhelming HD streaming ("... they've diminished the user experience and movie quality ...").

Today, the two talk about Blockbuster's Droid X deal, why you can't sync your Droid X to your TV and how in the wide, wide world of sports can a company so tethered to its stores can survive the transition to all-digital. That last bit, of course, is the most relevant question given that Blockbuster owes close to $1 billion in debt, has been given extension after extension on a $42.4-million payment, has shuttered hundreds of stores and has delayed for months announcing some kind of a recapitalization plan, leading to rumors of inevitable bankruptcy, prepackaged or otherwise. Here's Carr's Q and Lewis's A:

Blockbuster is a brick-and-mortar business. As the head of the company's digital strategy, how do you reconcile that with your vision of the future?

Obviously in the long-term, it will all be digital. The question is, when? The migration from VHS to DVD has happened. Moving to fully digital will take a hell of a long time -- a lot longer than the most bullish digital folks believe. I believe there will be a hybrid of physical and digital for some time.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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