Monday, January 9, 2017

Big Changes Are Coming To The DVD And Blu-ray Release Report In 2017

Changes.  Big changes are coming in 2017!

The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report has covered the market for the past 21 years and has been a first-hand witness to the shift from VHS (and laserdisc) to DVD, the arrival of Blu-ray and, lately, the addition of the 4K Ultra HD format.   

There is, however, one area that we’ve given short-shift to over the years, and that is the world MOD (DVD-R) for both DVD, and to a lesser extent, Blu-ray.  

The initial reason for ignoring DVD-R as a full-partner in the SKU count was related to piracy.   Some well-meaning film fans, early on, were frustrated with the selections that the Hollywood studios were concentrating on for their DVD releases.   Missing from the studio mix were the likes of B-Westerns, serials and other films that they, the studios, saw little merit in releasing.   So these film fans and film buffs simply took matters into their own hands and began generating DVD-R releases of their favorite films for other film buffs, like themselves, to purchase and enjoy.

Notifying certain studio contacts about this activity became a whack-a-mole pursuit that was time consuming — there were simply better things to do than rat-out some fly-by-night film operation putting out Charles Starrett Westerns on DVD-R discs.

As the market matured, funny things happened along the way that surprised the studios with the new DVD format.   Example, on VHS you couldn’t give TV programming away, but on DVD it became a major revenue stream.   Wow, that came as a major surprise.

And, the studios soon learned that they were competing against themselves when it came to film catalog releases.

To this latter point, no one in their right mind would buy a used VHS cassette from Blockbuster (back in the day), but they had no problem snapping up re-priced and newly minted versions of the same movie on VHS.   The studios were happy campers (I speak from experience, having run marketing for one them) as they could sell high-priced rental VHS copies and then wait a bit and reissue lower priced versions of the same product (a true double-dip).

DVD, however, was a horse of a different color.   A used DVD, sold on for example, turned out to be just as good a brand new version.   This created a nightmare for the studios in terms of catalog management.   The initial releases were showing up as used copies for sale, more often than not at lower price points, and that meant that there was a greatly diminished after market for marginal titles and deep catalog.   It also meant that warehouses were filling up with unsold product and that’s an inventory no-no.
The solution was MOD, or Manufacturing on Demand.  

How do you convince people that a MOD is just as good as a professionally replicated DVD disc?   That was a challenge, but over time this “challenge” has been overcome, especially when the only way to obtain certain golden treasures was to bite the bullet and buy a MOD.

This brings us full circle back to the changes that are afoot for the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report during the early months of 2017.   The number of commercially replicated DVD SKUs has taken a dramatic drop over the past 18 months, which has created the illusion that the entire DVD market is on the verge of collapse.   

That simply isn’t the case, as the total number of new releases being generated each week has remained relatively constant.   Instead, we are witnessing a shift from mass replication of DVD and Blu-ray products to more and more MOD releases. 
Inventory control is at the heart of this shift and by not properly documenting both professionally replicated and MOD new releases, we are contributing to a false narrative of what is actually taking place in the market these days.

While certain sponsors of the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report have had their product (both replicated and MOD) reported on and documented over the past ten years (or so), others have been ignored.   The ones that were reported on will simply be shifted into the MOD category and will not affect the overall SKU counts.

However, during the next three months, the various databases will be corrected to properly reflect what has taken place with respect to previously unreported MOD activity.   This will be dramatic, so don’t get freak out when you suddenly see huge jumps in previous years … it will balance out, and an accurate portrait of the home entertainment market will be the result.

There will be some rules to tame this chaos.   These are:

  1. The source of the MOD activity must be readily identifiable.   That means these sources must have a dedicated website.
  2. Dates of initial release for each MOD must be verifiable.
  3. The film product cannot be pirated.   PD is fair game, and certainly MOD releases of how-to product offerings, or religious teachings, etc. are all prime candidates.   But if a title is clearly being pirated (Song of the South is a prime example) it will not be included in the various databases that the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report maintains.   Piracy of copyrighted product is not condoned.
  4. Lastly, it is not our concern as to the “quality” of the product being offered.  We’ve seen, over the years, some real “crap” released on DVD (truly an embarrassment), but if the MOD product being offered meets the aforementioned listing criteria, it will be included in the revised mix.
This change in how DVD and Blu-ray new releases are documented doesn’t mean that there will be any alteration to the long-standing editorial policy of the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report.   These are:

  1. Sponsors (advertisers) always get first crack at the available space in each edition of the report.   All content is reposted to our business blog.   All business blog postings immediately (with content tags) appear as Google-Plus entries.   We are rapidly approaching the 12 million mark in terms of consumer reader hits.
  2. All new theatrical films that gross in excess of $25 million are covered.  They drive the market.
  3. Remaining coverage is based upon space available.
  4. All other new announcements are line listed in the appropriate DVD and Blu-ray sections during the week they are added to the various databases (often that is during the week of release).
Lastly, any MOD supplier who wishes to have their product line-listed, or covered editorially, please feel free to contact the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report with title information (including dates and pricing).

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