A media industry pioneer who is credited with creating the home video industry has died. Andre Blay died Aug. 24, according to media reports. His death was announced by his son Robert.
Blay’s historic journey into home video began with his founding of Stereodyne, the country’s first eight-track and cassette duplication company, in 1966. He then founded Magnetic Video, an audio/video production and duplication company, in 1968, and launched the Video Club of America, a direct-mail sales operation through which he offered the video cassettes produced and duplicated at Magnetic Video. He advertised the club in TV Guide, and 9,000 users reportedly initially signed up.
Blay’s club became the model for the video rental industry, with the first video rental stores springing up soon after. The Consumer Electronics Association credited Blay with creating the idea that “sparked a retail revolution as hundreds of mom-and-pop video rental and sales stores popped up in every community in America.”
In the late 1970s, Blay reportedly paid a flat fee of $300,000 plus $500,000 yearly to 20th Century Fox to license movies from the studio’s catalog, which he then duplicated and distributed. The operation was so successful that 20th Century Fox bought Magnetic Video in 1979 for $7.2 million to form the 20th Century Fox Video unit, with Blay serving as its first CEO.
Here’s a clip of Blay discussing his early days in home video …