MIAMI -

The golden era of video rentals officially ended Wednesday.

Blockbuster announced that it will close its approximately 300 remaining U.S. stores by Jan. 2014. The company will also close down its DVD mail service program.

"I saw it coming," said Richard Sullivan, a longtime customer.

"This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment," said Joseph P. 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."

It's has been long, slow drawdown for the video giant that prospered in the last twenty years.

The company was once owned by Fort Lauderdale-based billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga, who also once owned the Florida Marlins and Miami Dolphins.