An open letter to Sony

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Jay_B!, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. Jay_B!

    Jay_B! Screenwriter

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    I'm actually thinking of starting a petition to send to Sony, do you think it would be a good idea?

    This is something along the lines

    "Dear Sony Entertainment

    Your company has one of the most impressive vaults for classic television. From the 50's through the 90's, you have hundreds, if not thousands of beloved television series gathering dust.

    We are aware that you are the prime supporter of BluRay, but is it fair that we as TV-DVD consumers, have to suffer the most?

    We are aware of the great shows you have completed over time, such as Good Times, Seinfeld, Sanford And Son, Soap, What's Happening, King Of Queens just to name a few. But for every King Of Queens, there are nine All In The Family's or The Jeffersons' that are sitting in DVD release limbo with no hints of a future release because the TV-DVD department has become marginalized and a far lesser priority than in 2005.

    We also do not like the Minisode phenomenon you're trying to turn our old sitcom favorites into. Instead of releasing Facts Of Life episodes as bonus minisodes on DVD sets, how about releasing seasons 4-9?

    Speaking of Facts Of Life, and Maude, and Diff'rent Strokes, and One Day At A Time... what is with your YouTube phobia? You are aware these shows still have fans, right? So what if Facts or Maude fans who are sick of waiting for another season announcement goes to YouTube to watch an episode that you have no intention of making for sale? Depriving fans of shows they want to see that simply cannot compete with Seinfeld in the sales department only drives fans to the tape trading market, and while you hate that concept, can you seriously blame fans who just want to watch an old sitcom again that you're not releasing and nobody is airing in reruns?

    Speaking of Seinfeld, that show is a one of a kind success. You cannot seriously expect any other show in your vault to sell like that, so why penalize shows for only selling a fraction of it? Something like Silver Spoons or One Day At A Time doesn't even air in syndication anymore, while Seinfeld airs eight times a day in some markets. How can you expect those shows to sell Seinfeld numbers when Seinfeld has the exposure one hundred fold? Warner Bros. is just as guilty with punishing shows that aren't Friends. Shows like Seinfeld and Friends are one in a catalog, they're the exceptions, not the norm.

    Please Sony, listen to the consumers. You have the rights to one of the best television vaults around, and the fans just want more. Come on, finish up The Jeffersons, All In The Family, Married With Children, Charlie's Angels and the sort... give us more Facts Of Life, Diff'rent Strokes and Mad About You... give a second chance to Maude, 227, One Day At A Time, Larry Sanders Show, Mary Hartman Mary Hartman and countless others.

    Signed,
    your consumers"

    good?
     
  2. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Supporting Actor

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    Excellent-- no doubt about it, right on the bullseye!!!
     
  3. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    My one suggestion would be to make the phrasing less accusatory ("what is with your YouTube phobia?" "You cannot seriously expect any other show in your vault to sell like that, so why penalize shows for only selling a fraction of it?"). But the message is something that I think everyone here can agree with.

    After delaying it for several weeks, I finally finished off Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show last night. I'd bought the first season as a blind buy and was incredibly impressed, and from the best-of, it appears that the series only got better with age. I really, really want to see it in its entirety.
     
  4. Jay_B!

    Jay_B! Screenwriter

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    well, maybe "YouTube phobia" isn't the best way to put it, but Sony has removed countless episodes of Maude, Facts and Strokes from the site. I know maybe it's "rights" issues, but considering Sony is showing no intention on releasing future seasons of any of those shows, what is it hurting? You don't see people watching Seinfeld episodes on YouTube, because the fans can buy the entire series of that show, and it's still in reruns daily.

    I used to be against tape trading (and I still don't agree with it in terms of material that is commercially available), but I have to admit even I've become guilty of it because I've given up waiting on certain shows. Sony and Warner are two prime companies that are driving consumers to the tape trading market (even tho it's DVD trading now) because of shows we love but they're not making available for us. If Sony announced Facts Of Life season 4, I would buy it the day it comes out, but until then, I'll settle for second/third generation USA Network recordings from a decade ago because it's better than nothing.
     
  5. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    You can edit together the USA and N@N versions of The Facts of Life to get almost complete versions. But the color would be widely off. On USA it looked pale and washed out. N@N must have gotten uncut versions from which to make their own cuts, and they looked far superior.

    Adding insult to injury, hulu.com's page on FOL has only minisodes of George Clooney episodes. Columbia must have had a falling out with someone high up at Embassy when Coke bought that company from Norman Lear.

    Speaking of Hulu, I saw that Sony has Season 3 of Archie Bunker's Place (which, if they waited to finish All in the Family to start on, would never come out). Some episodes actually run over 27 minutes, while the "Gloria Comes Home" hourlong show is presented as a syndicated two-parter, with the two parts timing out at 22 minutes each. They were getting better about the cutting thing, even presenting a 28 minute pilot on Silver Spoons. But they never addressed the slip-ups on various shows.

    And then there's the logo thing. This BS dates back to the Coca-Cola era but it's more annoying now. With few exceptions, the era-appropriate Screen Gems, Columbia, Embassy, and TriStar logos have been covered up with the overexposed Sony Pictures TV logo. If they could leave Screen Gems' S From Hell on TV Land's prints of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, would it kill them to leave it on the DVDs? Can't they do what they did on 227 and Silver Spoons: put the new logo AFTER the old one, not INSTEAD of it?

    They're now offering complete series sets of Soap and What's Happening. The former I will buy because between that and the Columbia House tapes I can get the truly complete series. I already bought the season sets of What's Happening and will not buy the complete series set unless the missing footage is restored (i.e. the recap of the Doobie Brothers episode and the missing tag scenes on some season 3 episodes). This is a transparent attempt to clear out inventory. No attempt to add extras on either. For What's Happening they missed the chance to interview half the cast, but there's another half still alive, probably with stories to tell. For Soap, Katherine Helmond, Robert Mandan and Robert Guillaume are getting up there in years too. And what about asking Billy Crystal about what was like playing a gay character 30 years ago, and his perspective now that gay characters are fairly commonplace on TV?
     
  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I know that people say that all the time (so much that people have started to accept it as fact) but how do you know that it's true? I'm not asking to be antagonistic- I'm asking because if someone at Sony with actual knowledge of sales expectations read that and knew that you were way off, it would weaken your letter/petition.
     
  7. Jay_B!

    Jay_B! Screenwriter

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    I remember that article from 2005-2006 that bluntly stated that for every 100 Seinfeld sets sold, only 8 Who's The Boss sets would be sold, therefore WTB got abandoned for performing that way, when I think considering how much more popular Seinfeld is and how much more often Seinfeld airs in syndication that for WTB to sell 8% of it is fairly respectable, because it's probably only about 8% as popular. But yet we've never seen another WTB set because it's sales are so pale next to the blockbuster Seinfeld numbers.
     
  8. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    You honestly think that your open letter is going to sway them? If Sony releases a Season 1 set and it doesn't sell well, they are NOT going to release further seasons.

    Maude, Archie Bunker's Place and most of the others you listed had done poor in sales and it's douobtful further seasons will ever be released. While they may be at some future point down the line.

    As far as Sony's production line goes for television shows releases, it's no different than Fox Home Video. Sony Home Video has a 9-Month gap between releases of a television show. Fox Home Video has a 6-Month gap between their television show season releases.

    Other studios have a 4-Month gap between releases. Get over it. Studios are motivated by profits. If they release a new television series on DVD and if that release doesn't sell, they are not going to release any further sets.

    COmpanies don't usually follow the business model of selling a product when it's obviously not making money. WKRP has also fallen into this rut as I suspect other shows have from other studios.
     
  9. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Supporting Actor

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    Why, like "Friends," is it still in reruns when it's available on DVD? I would think that if "Seinfeld" or "Friends" fans had the entire package of either of those series on DVD, they wouldn't want to keep seeing the same episodes in possibly edited or commercial-filled reruns on satellite or cable. Now that I have the first two seasons' worth of "Lucy" on DVD, I think it'd be kind of awkward to see them on TV Land (that doesn't apply, yet, to the rest of the series).
     
  10. Firebee

    Firebee Supporting Actor

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    I think the open letter is laudable, tho I'm afraid it won't do much to sway idiot Sony ever-fixated on their ``Seinfeld'' numbers and why nothing else will ever compare with that. [​IMG]
     
  11. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Supporting Actor

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    It seems the same way with Warner Bros. and "Friends," that "Friends" is over-the-top better than any other comedy, or any other series, that has ever been made. Sorry, WB, but I and certain others do not share that view. [​IMG]
     
  12. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Regarding Sony's Seinfeld, and WB's Friends.

    Universal used the same argument for their top seller Miami Vice compared to Air Wolf(for every 100 Vice sales, Wolf would get about 10) and Uni continued to release seasons 2,and 3 of Air Wolf. Universal can be cool like that.

    Lets face it, Sony, WB, and Fox have one thing in mind, and one thing only. Profit. If it performs slightly less than they anticipate, you can consider it a "dead" title. They don't care about fans, or a shows legacy. Sad but true[​IMG]

    The best bet would be for a smaller studio to get the rights to release some of these shows we know will never see the light of day!
     
  13. David Levine

    David Levine Supporting Actor

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    Because both of them still do fantastic in the ratings. Even though some 2-3 million people bought the first seasons of Friends and Seinfeld, that means that over 99% of the US population does not own them.

    I know if it's late at night and I'm channel-surfing and I hit an episode of a show I love, I'll probably sit and watch it, even though I may have the DVD in the next room.
     
  14. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, David Levine, for clearing that up. That response, I think, explains to me very well why my brother Marc's wife Michelle still likes to see "Friends" reruns on TBS while owning at least the first season's worth of the same. The same with "Seinfeld"-- the true fans may own the entire package or at least one or two seasons' worth, but they're not averse to seeing the same episodes in channel-surfing, at least from your response. I myself am not a "Seinfeld" or "Friends" fan, but a lot of people are fans of either or both, and I'm willing to concede that. Different series appeal to different people.
     
  15. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Supporting Actor

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    That's good forward planning and good business strategy on Universal's part. If more people were purchasing "Miami Vice" than were purchasing "Airwolf", and yet "Airwolf" was still released, that shows that Universal understood the fanbases of both of those series and the tastes involved in both of them. Some may like "Miami Vice" more than "Airwolf," some vice versa, and still others may like them both. Considering fanbases and tastes, and building release plans around those fanbases and tastes, was one of the best things that Universal did. Neither Sony nor WB planned around or released according to fanbases and tastes, and that's why fans of lesser selling series from those studios are oftentimes disappointed.
     
  16. Jeff*H

    Jeff*H Supporting Actor

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    If Sony knows that for every 1000 units of Seinfeld sold, they will roughly sell 80 units of Who's the Boss, it's useful as a tool for projecting sales of future sets ONLY if the variables impacting sales were similiar for each set (marketing, production costs, target demographics, product penetration on store shelves, etc.). Otherwise it is a poor comparison.

    However, there is the issue of opportunity cost. If Sony is limited to the number of DVD sets they can produce in a business year (and most company divisions that I know of work on a budget each year, including mine which is in the movie/TV biz), and if they project that a first season of, say, 'What's Happening Now!' or a ninth season of 'Seinfeld' can make more money than a second season of 'Who's the Boss, it's a no-brainer, regardless of what fans would like to see.

    Other companies (CBS/Paramount) obviously have bigger budgets to release a greater quantity of shows in a year. For whatever reason, Sony's Home Entertainment division does not.
     
  17. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    While a lot of points have been made everyone has to face facts. If any one of these studios begin their release of a television series or if sales aren't up to standards for the studio releasing it that studio will NOT release any more for that title.

    Let's face it, every company that exists isn't going to put their money behind something that isn't generating profits for it. While Universal does continue releasing season sets on shows that they have under their banner, they are more likely generating some profit. As long as they aren't losing money, they'll probably continue releasing those titles ...

    Many of these shows that a lot of these studios have released with only one or two sets for that show are more than likely not generating enough revenue/profits to warrant releasing following sets.

    Trust me, if Universal wasn't making money on their releases, that they wouldn't continue releasing the sets. Take a look at Simon and Simon. This is a prime example of Universal following the path also observed by Fox, Sony and the other studios.
     
  18. Jay_B!

    Jay_B! Screenwriter

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    didn't you post a major complaint to First Look a few months ago for releasing Cybill while abandoning Baywatch, even though I don't think you can possibly find two 90's shows with less in common and less of a shared fanbase?

    The nine month strategy USED TO WORK. But you're forgetting that once BluRay hit, the whole TV-DVD dynamic changed for Sony in the past year. Barney Miller and Square Pegs are the only "classic tv" releases in the first five months of 2008, that's nowhere near enough. You say Sony takes 9 months between announcements for shows, so where are the next seasons of All In The Family and The Jeffersons? Both shows are classic and Sony is already midway into both runs, but it's been a year since we've seen a set of either show, with no announcement possible for either, so that nine month strategy is out the window because we should've seen or at least gotten an announcement for season 7 of both shows by now. You must remember this is 2008, the glory TV-DVD days of 2005 are long gone. Paramount is the only company around now that seems to be following some sort of uniform release format for shows. Sony, Warner, Fox, etc.... have all started massively abandoning their non-Seinfeld type shows.
     
  19. Jeff*H

    Jeff*H Supporting Actor

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    As more companies like Sony put TV shows on the internet for free, supported by ad revenue, it will be interesting to see if this is a more profitable model for them. The click-thru rate will determine how much they can charge advertisers, and I predict that those shows that don't get many hits will eventually be abandoned, since they will be taking up precious bandwidth space that Sony can use for a different show. Ultimately the same fate that their TV-DVDs are suffering.
     
  20. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    That doesn't mean that selling 8 copies of Who's The Boss for every 100 Seinfelds made a profit or enough money to keep them interested. Just going off of your post, that number seems to be used to give readers an idea of the sales numbers. Unless you work at Sony, you don't know their sales expectations or how they arrive at them so it's best to just avoid the whole subject because if you're wrong, it weakens the whole letter.
     

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