Tuesday, July 12, 2005

DVD sales

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal comments on the fact that both DreamWorks and Pixar are reporting lower earnings due to returns of DVD's. Although films are selling well, retailers are returning stock after only a couple of weeks, unwilling to hold inventory.

The article goes on to suggest that hope may lie in the eventual introduction of high definition DVD, spurring people on to buy more discs.

I really question whether releasing movies on HDVD is going to make any difference to sales.

As a consumer, I have purchased movies on VHS tape, then replaced many of them when laser discs became available. The difference in picture and sound between the formats was compelling, as was the ability to directly access content.

When DVD's came out, I was sceptical. Because they were digital and, depending on the skill of the transfer, could show significant compression artefacts, it was not clear that it was a superior technology. The market quickly made that decision for me however, and laser discs simply disappeared.

Now that I have an extensive library of laser discs and DVD's, am I going to buy the whole library again to get the supposed benefits of HDVD? No.

I would also point to the fact that people are willing to tolerate less quality rather than spend for more.

Music used to be about high-fidelity - the search for reproduction as close to the original performance as possible. Now we have MP3 and the consumption of music has shifted toquantity rather than quality. If the film industry is counting on sales from the pursuit of quality from consumers, they have calculated incorrectly.

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