News in Brief

Blockbuster sells Rhino to rival chain
February 1, 2007

Blockbuster sells Rhino to rival chain

In a robust market buoyed by the recent release of new consoles, two of the video game category’s major distribution outlets are expanding with specialized retail models. First off, Blockbuster has sold Rhino Video Games to Grapevine, Texas-based GameStop in order to focus on its core gaming rental service, which have gotten a whole lot busier with the release of PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 in the past two years. But the rental giant hasn’t abandoned game sales altogether. It still operates Game Rush stores in 450 U.S. Blockbuster locations, where customers can buy, sell and trade games and stock up on accessories and hardware.

Based in the Southeastern states, the 72 Rhino outlets will be re-branded over the year as GameStop stores, which have an almost identical selling and trading MO. The acquisition widens GameStop’s footprint to 4,700 locations in 15 countries, with 3,700 stores in the U.S. alone.

Though both retailers’ core consumer target is males between the ages of 15 and 35, engaging younger customers is definitely a secondary goal. GameStop has a steady stream of kids who come in looking to trade a handful of old games for one hot new release. And Blockbuster’s VP of games merchandising, Rod Murray, says the new platforms–especially Wii–are supported by more family-based games that appeal to kids.

ER does DVD biz with a friend of a friend

Entertainment Rights is introducing its British characters to American kids on DVD through a new partnership with Genius Products. The L.A.-based company will distribute key ER brands such as Postman Pat, Rupert Bear and Jim Jam & Sunny through its retail partners, which include Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster and Amazon. ER, meanwhile, will continue to control packaging and oversee all marketing for the DVDs.

Genius had a tight relationship with Classic Media, which ER officially acquired in January, so this new deal is very much a natural side-effect of the buyout. ER CEO Mike Heap feels that building U.S. exposure for the company’s properties through home entertainment might lead to network broadcast deals. He says plans are now in the works to secure additional licensing and publishing partners, and talks are underway to produce a major motion picture based on a yet-to-be-named ER property.

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