business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Two interesting birthdays have recently been celebrated, each of which speaks volumes about how the world has changed in recent years.

History.com takes note of the fact that on October 19, 1985, the very first Blockbuster video rental store opened in Dallas, with 8,000 videotapes on its shelves. "By 1988, Blockbuster was America’s leading video chain, with some 400 stores," the site says. "By the early 1990s, Blockbuster had launched its 1,000th store and expanded into the overseas market."

• Last week, the Food Network celebrated its 20th birthday with a star-studded Manhattan party: "In many ways, the event was not just a party, but also a mini museum, with exhibits tracing the history of the network from its earliest days, when the focus was on culinary education, to its glitzy and glamorous present."

It seems to me that these two companies reflect very different attitudes about business evolution.

In so many ways, Blockbuster seems like the poster child for being unable or unwilling to adapt to changing times - the company's business model was being attacked on various sides by the likes of Netflix, Redbox, and iTunes, but it seemed to stick too long with a marketing approach that consumers gradually - and then quickly - deemed to be irrelevant.

The Food Network, on the other hand, has evolved. Serious foodies might take issue with its direction, but the folks in charge understood that in a reality television world, the product had to become more entertaining, more reality television-like, even sexier. (Especially because so many other networks seem to be jumping into the cooking show pool.)

Lessons worth paying attention to, I think. And Eye-Openers, both.
KC's View: