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Concerning "Splitting" TV Series DVD sets

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Mark Johnston, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. Mark Johnston

    Mark Johnston Member

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    Attention all forum members:

    Concerning the new inclination of "splitting" Season sets of DVD released for a TV series, I have to tell you that a certain studio executive is not being honest with you...

    Working in the Home Video industry, I have frequent contact with my friends and counterparts who work in the Home Entertainment divisions of many of the other major studios (Fox, Paramount, and Warner Brothers, to name a few), and the current "buzz", is that a new trend is coming. Instead of what would normally be an all-inclusive "Complete Season Set" package, DVD sets of many TV series will be split up into 2-4 parts. And even though studio executives may deny this vehemently (as they must, for obvious P.R. reasons), this is truly for no other reason but to increase profits. So "1 + 1, will definitely add up to 3", or at least 2 and a half!

    With the upcoming flood of Television DVD releases, many studios realize that the market will soon be saturated with every old and new TV series ever broadcast being put out on DVD, and they feel they need a way of boosting their profits over competing releases. It is their opinion that splitting a set into 2 or more parts is the best way to do this.

    If a single season set (for example) retails for $49.99, but a studio instead chooses to split it up into 2 parts for $26.99 each, then the studio will make many tens of thousands of dollars (in some cases, hundreds of thousands) extra profit for just the small increase of $4.00 for the entire season with 2 parts, rather than if it had been sold as a single package. My sources have told me in no uncertain terms, that in any Season Set which is split, that "Volume One" will be slightly more (10-20%) in COST & RETAIL (not MSRP) than half the price of the entire set if it had been released in one package (if not considerably more). Just enough, so that the studio can make tons more money without the consumer noticing or caring about the increase. This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!

    HBO is one of the studios which is testing this new idea with "Sex and the City" Season 6-Part One, but the price increase with this release is egregiously obvious. At Target for example, the split set of Season 6-Part One retails at $34.99, while all the previous complete Season sets (1-5) are retailing at $39.99! This is an increase of 75% over half the cost of one of the regular "Complete Season" sets, so that buying both parts of Season 6 will cost the consumer $70 instead of $40!!! At the Amazon.com site, the pricing is similar, and you can read the many irate complaints about this by the fans. Now at Best Buy, the increased pricing for this set is even more apparent, with Season 6-Part One retailing at $41.99, which is EXACTLY the same price as the other Complete Season sets (1-5), so buying both parts of Season 6 will cost the consumer $83.98, which is double what the other "Complete Season" sets retail for (just a minor increase of 100%)!!! This is 1 + 1 = 4!

    The studios know that most consumers and all serious fans want the entire season of a series and will not stop at "Volume One" with only half the episodes. It is their sneaky (and unscrupulous) way of making a little (or a lot) more profit, by splitting up the Season into 2 or more parts. As a fan myself of various series (including "Lost in Space"), this infuriates me, and I want to do everything in my power to keep this from happening. I intend to "vote" with my wallet by NOT buying any Season set that is split-up. Perhaps many of the members here might agree to do the same, and not buy any split sets either.

    As mentioned in a previous thread, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is planning to test the same idea by splitting up "Lost in Space" Season 2, into 2 parts; but I guarantee you if FOX gets the idea that people will NOT buy the split-up set of "Lost in Space", then they (and other studios), will get the hint, scrap the idea, and go back to full Season set releases. It is my opinion, that whomever thought of the ridiculous idea of splitting up a Complete Season set to gouge even MORE profit from consumers, should be FLOGGED! And the remark made by a certain studio executive that "Lost in Space" sold only "ok" was UNTRUE (to put it mildly!). My contacts in corporate management of 3 of the largest nationwide retailers, told me that they flew off the shelves from day one, with initial shipments selling out within 1-2 weeks, and that subsequent shipments sold extremely well. They have assured me that "Lost in Space" was one of the best selling cult TV season sets this year. So, if a full "Season Set" is good enough for Europe, then it is good enough for us!

    You see, the studio's mentality is that the US consumer is not sophisticated or "smart" enough to notice or care about the difference of the price increase of splitting the set. Let's make them realize that they are WRONG! If it comes down to it, I would even prefer to buy a Complete Season set of a series and pay a little more for it, rather than pay the same increase for 2 parts in a "split" set. Another idea is for the studio to wait a little longer between Season sets to let the current release sell more units. Instead of each new Season set being released every 6 months, maybe it would be prudent to wait 9-12 months to build interest (like "The Simpsons"), rather than flooding the market every 5-6 months with the next release when consumers cannot even afford to catch up that fast with a new purchase. This is very unlikely though, since the studios are so greedy for your dollar. They figure that "good" sales for a product are better NOW then having "great" sales for it LATER.

    If worse comes to worse with "Lost in Space", and they start splitting the Season sets, then I will just buy the Region 2 Complete Season sets from Great Britain, and play them on my Region-Free DVD player. For most consumers, however, purchasing a Region 2 set is not a viable option, so they are unfortunately stuck with the "split-up" set from Region 1. As consumers in the US and Canadian markets, I also believe it is about time that we demanded the same completeness and quality that the Region 2 sets enjoy.

    For example, "Lost in Space" is comprised of only 3 seasons for Heaven's sake, and in Region 2, they will definitely get the remaining 2 seasons in "Complete" sets, which will NOT be split-up (even though the total number of Region 2 units sold was LESS than here is the US and Canada!). The very fact that they are splitting the set for Season 2 when Season 1 sold so well here in Region 1, just proves that something's "Fishy in Denmark". What's next, going from 2 parts, to 4, and then back to individual episode releases (like "Star Trek: The Original Series")? I thought we were getting AWAY from that!

    And as far as the MSRP being publicized as exactly half of the MSRP of the Season One set, don't be fooled. Few retailers sell product at MSRP, because it is an INTENTIONALLY inflated number which has absolutely nothing to do with the RETAIL price, or the COST, which the studio charges the retailers. My retail sources have confirmed that the COST of "Lost in Space" Season 2 - Volume One, is slightly more than half that of the COST of the "Complete First Season", which will in turn make the retail price slightly more than half that of the first season as well. So, the MSRP is just more PR bullshit meant to mislead consumers. Obviously, if Region 2 gets "The Complete Second Season" set of "Lost in Space", while we only get "Volume One", even though the numbers show many more units sold here in Region 1, then this is definitely an EXPERIMENT by Fox, to test the waters. Let's make it FAIL!

    Speak your mind here on this forum and let the studios know that you do NOT want any Season Set of a series "split-up". Let's take a poll of the members here online and let the studios see the numbers. I am sure the results will be overwhelming. Oh, and don't buy their subtle threats that they "may not be able to release" the remainder of the series in full Season Set packages because the retailers won't stock it (this is a flat out lie, according to my retail sources). Actually the reverse is true (according to my industry insider sources), in the way that the studios are only planning to "split" the sets that are guaranteed to be good sellers (like "Sex in the City"). I can GUARANTEE you that if the studio gets the idea that the majority of the consumers will NOT buy a split set out of protest, then the release will most definitely NOT be cancelled, but WILL be released as a "Complete Season" set instead (this contingent is already planned for). Let's put our collective "foot" down, and tell them it's going to be "Full Season Sets" or nothing!

    Oh, and don't be so honored and flattered that a particular studio executive took time out of his busy schedule to answer some concerns about "Lost In Space" on this thread. You see, he knows it is in his best interests to get support from the "hard-core" fan base which is well represented here on this forum ( since it generally comprises 60-70% of the total sales of a DVD release!). So basically, he is just "covering his ass" as far as total number of units to be sold, so that his profit margins for "Quarter 4" are assured. It is very interesting that he did not bother to reply to any of the numerous questions (some by Ron Epstein, himself) regarding the Region 2 release of "The Complete Second Season" of "Lost in Space" when sales of Season One were obviously less there than they were here in Region 1, or any of the other concerns about the quality of the video, or how the show was transferred to Disc? (hmmmmm, I wonder why?).

    Thanks,

    Mark Johnston
    Home Video Industry Employee
    (Obviously, as a "whistle-blower" on this greedy trend by the studios, I cannot reveal my sources since they have requested to remain anonymous, or provide more info about myself or the studio I work for, so please don't ask me to provide more details, because I just can't go any further. Just trust that this is the truth, and sign the petition to stop this from gaining momentum, or perhaps YOUR favorite series might get split-up? (Can you imagine "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Season 7- Part One? How RIDICULOUS!!!])

    So here is the petition to the studios to NOT split up Season sets of TV series DVD releases. If you agree with what is stated in the petition then sign it with your name, and then number your own signature (this will make it easier to count the signatures). For example, I will be the first to agree, so I will sign my name followed by a number "1". Whomever is second to sign should put a number "2" by their name, and so on...

    Attention Home Video Divisions Of All Studios:

    We, the consumers of DVD product, Do NOT want TV series releases to be "split" into 2 or more parts, so that you can make more profit from us (or for any other reason you can think up). We will ONLY buy a TV series if it is released as a "Complete Season" set. So DO NOT even think about insulting our intelligence by assuming we will swallow the COST/RETAIL price increase of a split set without complaint, because we WON'T even buy it! Making the MSRP of the "split" set exactly half that of the Complete Season set, is a trick which won't fool us. "Complete Season" DVD sets for TV series and nothing less!

    Mark Johnston - 1
     
  2. Mark To

    Mark To Well-Known Member

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    I agree, buy from Europe. You don't even need a region free player. You can pick up a player for $50 and using the instructions found on the internet, break the region code. In addition, there are companies like Netflix that rent TV releases. Screw with us, we'll rent and go another route, if you get my drift.
     
  3. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Well-Known Member

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    Sorry Mark Johnston, but I disagree.

    If Larry Sanders Season 2 Part 1 or Mary Tyler Moore S2 P1 become available (or MALCOLM or TWIN PEAKS or any other "orphaned" show I have begun collecting), I will be there on release day with money in hand.
     
  4. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Well-Known Member

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    Is the complaint about the extra cost of split sets, or split sets per se? I agree splitting sets to boost price and profit is a nasty thing to do to screw your loyal customers [​IMG]

    I can understand -- though I don't like the idea -- of split sets at exactly half-cost, since this helps spread TV releases out into more manageable "bites", since a single-season set can be pretty pricey.
     
  5. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Well-Known Member

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    I'm one of those complaints on Amazon about the SatC Season 6 part 1 release. I've bought every season of SatC including the overpriced Season 5 (only 8 episodes yet priced more than any set I purchased prior *strike 1*) but I stopped at Season 6 when they tried to pull this on us. That was *strike 2* and in this game that's all you get. I think HBO will find that Season 6 part 1 and 2 will be their lowest selling season...at least that's what I hope. I haven't seen any numbers on the sales yet, and it will be interesting to see what part 2 bring.

    Whole seasons are all I will buy. If you are only going to give me parts, or 'best of's' then I'll just catch them on reruns, or buy from a bargain bin years down the line.

    Why is it that Studios constantly try to ruin a good thing? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, especially at the expense of your customers that got you there in the first place. [​IMG]
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Well-Known Member

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    That is where the studios screwed up. They have been putting out way too many TV shows lately, and no one can disagree with that. What they should have done was space them out a little bit more (and I'm not talking about one series, rather all of the series' that they have put out, and instead put out some more movies.

    For those of us on a budget it helps to get a break every now and then. Now they're screming for more $$$ and naturally, they put the screws to us, the customers.

    Unfortunately, I knew that the HTF buying power is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of their sales, and can only pleed to retailers not to carry them and to have customers email the appropriate studio, and let them know that even their retailers aren't that stupid.

    Glenn
     
  7. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Well-Known Member

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    I bought Lost In Space season 1 and love it. However, I have no plans on buying a split season 2 set. I would've gladly bought a complete season 2 set, but splitting up the season really infuriates me. I will never buy split up season sets. You know dual layer DVD burners are now on the market, and anyone can have a subscription to Netflix. Angry fans can read between the lines. The studios have no one to blame but their greedy selves.
     
  8. Brian-C

    Brian-C Member

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    Yes, I do hate that they do this. But, people will complain, and alot of them will still buy, if they are true fans, and there's a possibility that nothing will be done.

    AVS has gone with a worse trend though, so I am completely not buying any products that follow their trend. Its mostly Anime series DVDs, instead of selling the series as a complete set, they instead will never put it as a complete set, and sell the collector's box along with the first volume (only 1 DVD), and perhaps try to include a "free T-shirt". Well since I cannot buy these as complete sets anymore, I have no will, nor the money, to go out and try to buy each individual DVD, so I refuse to buy anything following this trend.
     
  9. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Well-Known Member

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    Aren't the studios already making tons of cash on season sets? Haven't we read again and again how "impressed" and "surprised" execs are at sales?

    For me, one of the main attractions to TV on DVD is season sets - they condense everything into a nice package, and - most importantly - don't take up inordinate space on my shelf. Any expansion on my shelf is unwelcome. Season sets are the only way to go. I'll lose interest real fast if season sets go away.
     
  10. Scott Hamilton

    Scott Hamilton Well-Known Member

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    They did this with season 1 of CSI and it didn't work.

    Just goes to show you do studios really care about the work and fans or just $$$???
     
  11. David Lambert

    David Lambert Well-Known Member

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    In Canada, Scott. In the USA, a different distributor released it as one season.

    Mark, I think you are making a very GENERAL statement, and that an overall condemnation of the split-season idea is the wrong thing to do. As with most things, each of these is on a case-by-case basis.

    As I said in my Lost In Space news item, and in more detail in a thread here at the HTF, if you look at the running time of LiS-S1 and LiS-S2P1, and proportionally compare the listprices, then S2P1 actually ends up being a better price. Could Fox make it up with S2P2? Maybe. But I'll wait on that and see before I condemn them, or call anyone a liar!

    Other than here at the HTF, either in threads or at Chats, I have never "talked" to Peter Staddon myself. I know him no more than any other long-time HTF member, and I have nothing to gain by supporting him sight unseen. I just don't think he's trying to rook us, as you seem to. Would a successful LiS-S2 split set mean more would come later? Probably. It doesn't mean it's a conspiracy, though! [​IMG]
     
  12. Peter Staddon

    Peter Staddon Well-Known Member

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    As one of the Greedy Studio Execs reffered to indirectly by our "Whistle Blower" let me just make a couple of points.

    1)We were very disaappointed in the sales of "Lost in Space Season 1". A big part of the reason we felt it was not as successful as it should have been was the pricepoint. It was just too expensive for an impulse purchase, or a purchase by anyone other than the really committed fan. No retailer would have said that this flew off the shelves, although just to give you a benefit of the doubt it may have flown off the shelf at an individual store, most would have said that it clogged up shelf space. I still have the inventory returned from retail stores in my warehouse to prove it!

    2) When we looked at ways of reducing the price, the only way of effectively reducing the price enough so that it would impact the on shelf price was to split the set in half.

    3)As far as "1+1=3+" I wish that were the case but even a rudimentary understanding of business would enable anyone to understand that there are greater economies to be had by producing one set than splitting them into two. You have nearly twice the packaging costs, twice the freight and handling costs, twice the merchandising costs, twice the inventory holding costs, etc.

    4) I will admit that we are releasing "Lost in Space season 2" in two parts in order to increase the profitability of the release. That is my job! However, we will do this by selling more units, not by charging more or making a higher profit percentage on each unit sold.

    5) If we are not successful with this strategy we will not go back to launching similar series as a single season because that did not work (see point 1), and one of the definitions of insanity that I agree with is to do exactly the same thing again and expect a different result.

    Fox has been committed to releasing full season sets for TV product, however if that does not work what would you suggest we do? Would you prefer that we did not release the show at all? I read that some of you will not buy Lost in Space Season 2 as a two part release. Obviously that is your choice, but the point I would make is at least you have the choice.

    I'm not going to reply to any further posts as I have laid out what I needed to say here. Other than to say to Mark that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    Thanks
     
  13. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Well-Known Member

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    And I'd say they've done a great job with it too. After all, didn't Fox essentially invent the season box set with the X-Files? I read the explanation for the Lost in Space v.2 sets and it sounded reasonable to me. What I object to is individual discs (like Warner's Batman animated) instead of the season sets. (In fairness, the single Batman animated discs don't appear to be replacing season sets, so the choice is still there.) Lastly, in the case of Sex & the City, wasn't Season 6 broadcast in two parts? Part 1 of Season 6 was aired months before Part 2. Part 1 came out on DVD around the time Part 2 aired on TV.

    Still, like many here (I suspect), I reiterate my strong preference for season sets. They're the best thing about TV on DVD.
     
  14. JohnSmith

    JohnSmith Well-Known Member

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    In a way splitting up season boxsets is a good idea for UK customers. Buying Region 1 boxsets- since customs are now clamping down on everything.

    So I would rather have 2 x £17.00 boxsets to make up a season, instead of a £28 Season boxset. With all the charges >£18 amount up to a fair whack :-(

    As for your comment with Lost in Space S1 being expensive. Hardly! You get 8 discs, 1400 mins of episodes. Great value for money (£27)! I enjoyed watching them.
     
  15. Mark Lx

    Mark Lx Well-Known Member

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    The main reason I buy TV shows on DVD, whereas I hardly buy any movies, is the amount of minutes you get for your dollar. I'm not a collector or a completist, but it's just a hassle to say, rent a disc of MASH with 8 episodes, and have to watch them all in a few days. The prices to buy are currently just low enough to make it worthwhile to buy sets (even if you only watched them two more times in your life). The splitting of sets is really another way of saying "We're raising prices". At a certain threshold (it would vary for each show), I just won't buy them at all. It's just not that important. So $500 to 600 a year would become zero. Hey, maybe all the full season sets available now will become collector's items. An abanboned experiment.
     
  16. ScottDombrowski

    ScottDombrowski Well-Known Member

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    Well I have Lost In Space-Season 2 part 1 on preorder from Deep Discount, and unless part 2 costs more (which I would doubt), the price comes to exactly one penny less than the cost of the complete first season. So I certainly dont' see that as "raising the price" or the studio making more money. Of course, I'd prefer one set but if I have to buy a split set, I have no problem with doing that. I'd rather do that than not have them at all.
     
  17. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Well-Known Member

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    I don't mind this pratice if the show has enough episodes that it can't be possible to release it as one set. Look at the Rhino release of Transformer and G.I. Joe, for one season for those show take up probably 50 episodes (that is just a guess), so unless you want a massive box that cost a fortune, then you have to split it up.

    I can understand from Peter view, as creating these box sets are pricey, from retriving material, cleaning up the prints, finding the bonus material, and having cast members return for other extras. I don't say this is a great method, but if it not possible to release it together as one set if the amount of episodes would make the box too high to purchase. Still, if the season if eight episodes, and they split it into two sets that are just as pricey as the previous 24 episode release, then I will agree with Mark.
     
  18. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Well-Known Member

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    Once again I state that I am very satisfied with what Fox has done with LOST IN SPACE so far, and what they intend to CONTINUE to do. As a diehard fan of this series, my main concern is getting all 83 episodes of the three seasons on DVD..... PERIOD. If I have to spend a couple more dollars, so be it. Having Seasons Two and Three split into two parts would not be my first preference by any means, but I'll definitely take it as opposed to NOT getting this series out!

    I hope this thread in no way deters Peter Staddon and FOX into giving up on the series altogether. Please don't allow the opening post to make you throw in the towel. I understand that the studio has to do what it must in order to make it worthwhile releasing the entire show... and I'd rather pay a little more and have two volumes than settling for my crummy old VHS copies. Keep up the good work, Mr. Staddon!
     
  19. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Well-Known Member

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    But if the two halves taken together don't cost more than the price of a complete season set, then they haven't really raised prices (though here in Canada it means more GST to pay).

    I don't care for the idea of seasons being split up into two halves, but I'm also philosophically committed to the idea that if a show doesn't sell well at first, the studio should do what it can to find a way to keep the seasons coming. I don't like split-up seasons, but then there are a lot of things I don't like that are preferable to not having a show at all.

    I think the splitting-up justification is strongest for long seasons. According to the episode guide, Lost in Space's second season was 30 episodes, and episodes were about six minutes longer then than they are now. Split it up, and you get 15 episodes of 50 minutes each, or the equivalent of 17 episodes of today's length. That's not bad. If you split up, say, a sitcom with 22 episodes, the halves would not offer enough bang for the buck. (Which is why I don't think splitting up Mary Tyler Moore season 2 would help, though I would reluctantly buy it in split-up form.) Heck, we just got a Batman set that consists of only half the first season (because the first season was about 56 episodes). And we got an SCTV box that consists of only part of their first NBC season. Split-up seasons happen all the time, even now, for various reasons.

    Ultimately the way I feel is that, based on recent announcements, Fox is at least trying to bring out further seasons of some of the shows that didn't sell great (Lost in Space, NYPD Blue, King of the Hill). If they have to resort to some stuff like this to justify the release of more Lost in Space, that at least is better than giving up on it. I'd be more inclined to cry foul if they pulled this on a season 1 release.

    Oh, and ultimately what our whistleblower has told is that studios are interested in making a profit. Stop the presses. [​IMG]
     
  20. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Well-Known Member

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    If sales of Lost In Space season 1 were so disappointing that it merits splitting season 2 in into 2 sets, why doesn't Fox do the same thing with the Mary Tyler Moore show season 2-7? At least the rest of the show would finally come out.
     

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