Why are so many series stalled or stopped?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by jamesmcaw, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    kemcha,

    I think you are totally misreading TravisR's comments. I believe he was saying that if people continue to buy DVD's then DVD's will not be going away. At least that is the way it reads to me.

    You can't compare BR TV releases to DVD TV releases at this stage of the game. TV shows on DVD came out slowly at first, and picked up some momentum later. If anything, I would say there are more BR releases on TV now then there were on DVD at the same stage of development. Of course that is because TV shows have had some success on DVD now.

    BR releases appears to be following the same flow as DVD releases did. New, catalog standby's from the last few decades, highly rated classics, and then lesser known vintage catalog titles. Whether movies or TV shows it tends to follow the same trend, except TV shows tend to lag behind movies.
     
  2. David Levine

    David Levine Supporting Actor

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    This is dead on. There are a ton of reasons we aren't seeing a lot of TV on Blu-Ray:
    1. The show was shot on a format that is not possible to transfer to HD - like video tape. (Lots of 70s and 80s comedies and dramas, cartoons like GI Joe, Transformers, etc).
    2. The show's effects were all created in SD and all the effects would need to be redone and rerendered in HD, and every episode reedited/composited. (B5, ST:TNG, etc.)
    3. Right now, it about 5 times more expensive to author and 3 times more expensive to manufacture Blu-Ray discs. Its a big issue on a 2 hour movie, its an ENORMOUS issue on a 22 episode season.
    4. Blu-Ray sales of television series is still much slower than DVD for most shows. That makes the studios very leery of what they put on Blu-Ray. A huge number of TV shows that come out in both formats sell about 80% DVD vs 20% BR.
    5. TV on DVD sales started slowing down well before the Blu-Ray push. Its so much content, and people have so many sets that they still haven't watched that they aren't in a hurry to buy more.

     
  3. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Many shows will never, or rather, should never be on Blu-ray. If it was shot on video tape, it is what it is, and its not HD...ever. I cant see me buying classic Doctor Who again, cause most of it was shot on video tape. The BBC did a great job in restoring the tapes, but its still tape!
    Star Trek: The Next Generation, and almost every hour long TV show from the 80s and 90s was shot on film, but finished on video. To be HD they would have to go back to the original film elements and "remake" the show again. In the case of TNG, and Babylon 5 as Adam stated, they would also need to redo the effects to HD. Not impossible, but also not cheap. That also is assuming the original film elements exist for those shows.

    Course most older shows from the 50s and 60s were shot on 35 mm film, and ironically those shows would be ready to go, as long as the film elements were in good shape. Star Trek, and The Prisoner are beautiful in HD!

    edit: Looks like David Levine and i were typing at the same time.

    PS David, i miss BCI
     
  4. kemcha

    kemcha Second Unit

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    First, the way I read Travis' comments, was that he was intimating that consumers weren't allowing the DVD format to die and that they were postponing the inevitable. I won't disagree that the DVD format will eventually be retired. Only that the industry hasn't figured out a way to transfer television shows to the new format in a timely manner. Travis' comments were relaying a very negative attitude toward those consumer who still buy the DVD format. If he didn't mean it this way, then he really should have posted his comments more clearly.

    Secondly, I agree with David on the points he posted. That there are just too many television shows out there that won't be adaptable to the blu ray format and this is why studios need to keep the DVD format specifically for this very reason until they can find an efficient way to deliver those DVD shows to an HD format.

    Additionally, I also agree with him on his point that many consumers have too many titles or sets in their library that they have a hard time catching up on watching them. There are about 60 season sets that I have purchased that I have yet to watch through. Some shows I have watched multiple times even though there are a lot of sets I have yet to watch. It's the fact that it depends on the mood that I'm in and what I feel like watching that determines which shows on DVD that I watch.

    I must have watched JAG, NCIS, Bones CSI, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, 24 multiple times, even though I have yet to watch other shows like Starsky and Hutch, Lois and Clark, Charlie's Angels, Dick Van Dyke Show. While I have watched them on broadcast television, it just depends on what I'm in the mood for watching.
     
  5. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Quote:
    That's how I read his comments, too. Of course he can clarify it himself, but I'm pretty sure that's what he meant.

    Personally, I do believe DVD as a format is on the way out and Blu-ray is being pushed by the studios and consequently the major retailers. That seems pretty obvious to me. And for all the reason David Levine and others here have given, I don't think Blu-ray will ever be the friend to vintage TV that standard def DVD has been. Just can't see it happening with anything other than the hugely popular vintage series.

    Gary "wish I saw a brighter future for classic material, but right now it looks bleak to me" O.
     
  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Yeah, that's what I meant. I've got a healthy Blu-ray collection but I still buy DVDs of movies or TV shows that I don't think will see a Blu-ray release in the near future.
     
  7. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    I agree with you Gary. While I tried to clarify the interpretation I didn't really give an opinion. When it just doesn't make sense anymore to produce DVD players or disks based on cost to do a Blu-ray instead the format will die. Obviously, that doesn't mean our collections are in jeopardy since a Blu-ray player will play both.

    Many in the past have mentioned shows released on VHS but not on DVD. This will most likely hold true with the transition to Blu-ray as well. If it didn't sell well enough in the previous format then there is no reason to try again from a studio perspective. But I also see the possibility of a compromise to some degree. Just because Blu-ray takes the place of DVD does not necessarily mean that all content distributed has to fit the model of expectation for a Blu-ray release. In other words, it could just as well be used as the latest transport media. Some day Mill Creek may just re-release a 750 Western TV Classics collection of public domain content on a Blu-ray disk. The content will just be up-converted on the disk vs. waiting for your player or output device having to do it. So any vintage content could still be open game for release. It won't have to be only filmed content in the best condition of say Perry Mason to get the nod.

    While I'm not saying it will happen this way, but it could if the studio's see a buck to be made in doing so.
     
  8. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    That's what I do too.
     
  9. kemcha

    kemcha Second Unit

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    I'm not against the blu ray format, only those who aren't doing enough to convince DVD consumers to buy into the new format. With DVD releases of television shows slowing down, and the industry isn't doing enough to release these shows to blu ray format, it just isn't enough to convince consumers to make that switch to BR.

    Sure, I'd buy into the blu ray format. But, there just isn't enough incentive to consider that move. Not only that, but, every retailer website that I log into has so many complaints about practically every DVD player that it's forced me to back away from the format. I just think that studios need to do more to convince consumers to make that switch, even if they're delaying current television show releases because they're wondering about the future of the DVD format.

    Sony is probably the biggest problem seeing as how they've released many television shows to DVD but have failed to complete the release of those shows. All in the Family, Barney Miller, The Jeffersons and there are countless more that I can't think of at this moment, that have been abandoned by the studio.
     
  10. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Supporting Actor

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    The studios will push BluRay as hard as they can because they're always looking for a way to repackage and sell for the seventeenth time those big titles that have huge profit margins attached. Keeping the consumer on the "upgrade treadmill" is the ideal environment for the electronics manufacturers and the studios.

    I don;t believe there was any great consumer demand for ever higher quality - in fact, the consumer is very often not getting the best quality out of their existing setups (how many friends have you visited with truly awful setups, like chaining eveything through the RF sockets? More depressing than that is put it all right any they can;t see the difference...it was "good enough" before and it;s still "good enough" after). The TV makers and studios have been quite adept at creating that demand though.

    Standard DVD had a long list of "desireables" over VHS. Video on a compact disc was to the consumer new, modern, exciting - VHS was old, clunky and clumsy. The discs were light and compact, never wore out, had (more or less) instant access plus extra features.

    BluRay to many consumers is just a "DVD upgrade" that gives you a better picture and sound - so long as you have a display to justify it...but more importantly, many people really do not see that much difference or they don't care. I am sure that lots of folks are buying hi-def TV's by default, and are getting into BluRay because they're told "its the thing you need".

    It is my belief that whilst BD might achieve the hardware penetration levels that DVD did, the software catalogue will never approach the size of DVD. Moreover, I think that downloads and streaming will begin to bite at BD's ankles so that it will never get the ten year "clear run" that DVD did.

    I believe that the consumer regards convenience and speed of purchase, price, and mobility, more than he regards ever increasing quality.

    Many people who exclusively buy music by download will have no idea what bitrates are: all theyu care about is being able to buy cheap music more or less instantly, that they can play many devices including mobile ones.
     
  11. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Well said, Richard. I really can't disagree with anything you wrote. I do believe that the "demand" for Blu-ray is at least in part a creation of the studios and the industry itself as opposed to being something the average Joe would actually seek out. And I also agree at least a portion of this phenomenon can be attributed to little more than the studios looking to create more revenue by encouraging people to double-dip.

    The point you make about downloading and streaming nipping at the heels of Blu-ray is also spot on as far as I'm concerned. I don't see any way that BR gets the same run that DVD did for this very reason. I'm afraid that we are at the point where technological advances may keep us from ever settling in on a standard format that will see anything close to the VHS 20+ year run. And as you said, we may not even see a strong 10+ year run for BR in terms of it being the one and only dominant format people are basically forced to go to. I think the streaming issue will shut them down fairly quickly. The younger generation is becoming so mobile oriented, where they seem to be content to watch content on their little laptops or even i-Phones/blackberries, that I'm not sure the lure of high definition is going to allow BR to flourish like DVD has. After all, if I'm not watching something on a decent size screen does it really matter how fantastic all the details look? But then again I may be all wet. Guess only time will tell.

    Gary "I hate that we can't get a format to last a couple of decades - too much cost to keep upgrading" O.
     
  12. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Cinematographer

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    Back to the main topic...

    I feel it's simply a marketing decision based on actual sales numbers. As several have mentioned you'll find a pink slip in your envelope if you green-light too many additional seasons of low selling programs. You have to leave personal feelings at the gate. You may *really* want to get (insert program name) out there because you love it too, but it's just not selling at the numbers needed for profitability.

    Several "high rated" shows (based on Nielson numbers during original airings) have been poor performers in the sales market. That can be attributed to several factors:

    1. Still airing in syndication *everywhere*.

    Where's the incentive to purchase (insert program name) when I can just turn on the TV and watch, record, or TiVo it?

    2. Burn out/over familiarity factor.

    I *love* (insert program name here), but I watched it every night for XX years and am tired of it.

    3. What was I thinking when that aired originally?

    I purchased S1 of (insert program name here) and just can't believe how horrible it really was! Why did I like this before?

    4. No matter the ratings, it's really a cult/nich program.

    Some programs were true hits but fail the all important repeatability factor because they were too much a product of their time or were almost totally based on the then current pop culture which has become irrelevent. Count on a single season selling fairly well based on nostalgia.

    5. Lack of advertising.

    I can't tell you the number of supposedly "high profile" series that are released that the general public simply doesn't know exist. If it's not currently airing and being actively promoted, they never hear about it.

    6. I really like the show, but it's really X seasons of the same thing. AKA "One or two seasons will be enough".

    Most people are not collectors and don't look upon these shows like most of us here. We tend to want it all, no matter how crappy the final season(s) were. It's a mentality/mindset that most of the population does not share. My wife thinks I'm crazy to have so many DVDs and is content to watch everything "live". I've purchased some of her favorite shows and they sit unopened, but she'll watch them when/if they come on a cable channel. Oddly enough, while doing this I've contributed to this "one or two seasons is enough" factor, the series I've purchased for here have *all* seen every season released! :/

    After several stalled shows hit someone's collection they may be less likely to pick up early seasons of another series. That becomes the classic "catch 22"... No more releases are forthcoming because sales were low and sales were low because no one picked up the early seasons afraid they'd be left hanging *again*.

    Then there's the over-saturation factor. For many years we enjoyed large numbers of classic series being released on DVD. There's only so much most people will purchase and there's only so much shelf space. Most big-box retailers are only going to stock what's current and selling well with very little space for "catalog" type titles *unless* those titles are clearance priced. I know many people who'd purchase seasons of "stalled" series *if* they were available locally, but that's not going to happen because of limited shelf space *or* inflated prices. As examples I cite Wal-Mart and Hastings. WM has fairly good prices but limited shelf space and thus only stocks high profile or clearance titles. Hastings has lots of shelf space but inflated (read full MSRP) prices *most* of the time.

    Eventually you'll be able to stream any show or movie ever made whenever you wish. That's what the industry is *really* shooting for. You'll not own anything but rent everything and pay a monthly fee for the service (NetFlix anyone?). That's a reliable revenue stream that costs very little beyond the initial digitizing of the product. The younger generation is already being groomed for this and is embracing it with open arms. The only thing truly preventing this is the lack of widely available "low cost" high speed internet access. I don't like this model. I *like* to have a hard copy. That's why I have large record, CD, DVD, and book collections.

    There's little the average consumer can do about stalled series. The best thing is to contact the studios who are holding a program hostage and politely request they release the next season(s). If enough people do this you *might* see something come back on the schedule. If it does, be prepared to back your request with a purchase soon after release date. Barring that, get Oprah to push for more releases of stalled programs.

    I also have hope that one of the companies currently licensing product and producing "cheaper" packages will eventually pick up a stalled series.
     
  13. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Speaking as a consumer with a budget, the only way I'd upgrade from DVD to Blu-Ray is if there is a value to it. While I love the picture quality of a Blu-Ray, standard DVDs do play on it and their quality is upgraded to a sufficent level to keep me happy. The value I speak of is in extras - if there is new stuff, say newly unearthed artifacts from the show, new commentaries, branching versions of the show to more closely resemble the original broadcasting format, then I'm interested.

    Star Trek is an example of an upgrade from DVD to Blu-Ray that I saw the value in: two versions of every episode, original and new FX version, text commentaries and a boatload of other details. That's appealing to me.

    Honestly, I only see two shows right now, at least in the classic format, that would support the cost of the upgrade: I Love Lucy and Twilight Zone. Both had fantastic series sets done, but I can see room for improvement. For Lucy, restoration of the original opening credits or branching versions that include the credits would be nice. I'd also like to see if any of the original closing credits survive to see if they could be restored. For Twilight Zone, aside from text commentaries on some episodes, I dunno what more could be added honestly.

    Blu-Ray is a good format, but it is expensive and it's still finding it's niche. Right now, it exists in the same place Laserdisc did compared to VHS - good for extras and pictures, but hard to say what else yet. Maybe BR-Live will be the breakthrough, we'll just have to see.
     
  14. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    I think there is one aspect of the Blu-ray format that would be a *boon* for collectors of classic TV:

    It's 50 GB per disc storage capacity.

    If that space were to be utilized for standard-def transfers, it should be easily possible to fit a complete season of most TV series on a single Blu-ray disc. This is an aspect of the format that has so far been ignored by the studios. And I'm really surprised by that. Imagine having the complete "I Love Lucy" series in one five-disc box set with scads of supplements (some even utilizing BD-J.) Is that something that would make you consider Blu-ray? Don't forget that in addition to the extra storage capacity the discs are also more durable than DVD.

    It's been mentioned in this thread that many series from the 80s, like Star Trek: The Next Generation, were shot on film but edited on video and are therefore not good candidates for Blu-ray. But if you could purchase the entire TNG series in standard-def in one 9-disc Blu-ray box set -- with some new BD-J supplements -- wouldn't you consider that? And don't forget, also, that the standard-def transfers will also benefit from the utilization of more modern codecs, which is not possible with DVD, which is forever locked-in to MPEG-2.

    In short, it's my opinion that the Blu-ray format does offer significant advantages over DVD -- irrespective of increased resolution -- for collectors of Classic TV.
     
  15. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    Sigh. It seems to me this topic has been discussed many times in many threads and always ends with a shrug of "I don't know." I'm not saying it isn't an appropriate topic or capable of further elucidation and enlightenment, but the consistency of subject, tone and potential resolution never varies much. I suppose with the obvious dearth of TV releases it at least provides some ever renewable ideas for discourse on this particular forum, but unfortunately much of it becomes empty posturing after awhile. Then again, that is often the nature of online forums. So be it. After all, no one is forcing me to read it and/or contribute to it. I just wish we had more substantial information to help revive this exhausted subject a bit.

    Having said all that, I do believe Gary's assessment quoted above represents the most salient and prescient point for now. I completely agree with him. As with all consumer products and marketing, the future can be seen in what young people are adopting and sharing. Well said, Gary, you are anything but "all wet" on this subject.
     
  16. kemcha

    kemcha Second Unit

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    Joseph, I think you may have hit the target. That would be a definite upgrade. It would allow allow studios to release a complete season of a television series on a single blu ray disk as well as lower the cost for consumers to buy them. Can you image $20 blu ray releases that contain an entire television series and that are affordable to the consumer? It would definitely be an improvement and studios could repair the damage that entertainment fans already perceive among these studios.
     
  17. David Levine

    David Levine Supporting Actor

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    It actually hasn't been ignored, its that the studios and retailers want nothing to do with it at this time.

    The general public is still fuzzy on what exactly Blu-Ray is. So right now, everyone wants to market it as HD video and sound. If they start using it as am mass storage device for SD content, you start to muddy the waters. People buy it expecting to be blown away by the quality and end up saying "I can't see the difference in Blu-Ray".

    I think once the format becomes more accepted by the general public - and they become more educated on it, we may see some of what you suggest, but right now it won't happen.

    Its a great idea, and it would allow for much more product to fit on retailers (and consumers) shelves. It would be greener (less discs, less packaging) and it would eventually save money. fewer discs to author and replicate, lighter box sets means less shipping costs, overstock and returns would take up less space in warehouses, etc.

     
  18. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    I'm bummed out that Sony gave up on POLICE WOMAN and FANTASY ISLAND after just one season.
     
  19. kemcha

    kemcha Second Unit

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    Why is everyone so intent with stating that studios have given up on certain shows? They haven't given up. While, in truth, lower sales have slowed the releases of unfinished shows, they haven't been abandoned. They're just taking longer to release them.

    There have been many shows that studios have released to DVD that have seen slower releases. Night Court, Everwood, seaQuest, Sliders, Frasier, Cheers, Taxi are just a few of these type shows. They're just taking longer to release as studios try to stagger the releases here and there.
     
  20. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    I totally disagree with this assessment. For every show that you can point to that has been picked back up after a delay, I can point to 3 more that are most assuredly either stalled or completely abandoned. Now, does that mean the studio will never, ever come back to the show or potentially rent it out down the line? No. But it does mean that as of right now there are zero plans for that show. It's not even a blip on the radar. I'd call that an abandonment in the same way a spouse might leave their marriage partner and kids and then come back to them out of the blue 2 or 3 years later. Did that person abandon the marriage? Absolutely. And for every person that comes back to a marriage after running away for a long period of time there are many others who never come back. Just because some of the studios come back to shows after lengthy delays does not mean they will always do so.

    I can state categorically that the following shows are abandoned as of this moment:

    Leave it to Beaver
    Mr. Peepers
    Big Valley
    Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (although I'd still like to believe they'll finish this one - but it's not a given)
    Flipper
    Rawhide
    Happy Days
    Cheyenne
    Police Woman
    Fantasy Island
    Dragnet
    Make Room for Daddy
    Naked City
    Lone Ranger

    and dozens more. These shows, as of right now, are stalled/abandoned. Might they come back in the future? Yes. But might they not? Yes again. So to say that we shouldn't talk about shows being abandoned simply because a few are resurrected from time to time doesn't make sense to me. But again, that's only my opinion.

    Gary "not trying to be contrary, but I just flat out don't agree that some shows can not be categorized as abandoned" O.
     

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