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Sony buys MGM, Ziv shows probably buried forever


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#1 of 54 OFFLINE   Mark To

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Posted September 14 2004 - 02:46 AM

Oh well, there goes whatever small chance there was of seeing Science Fiction Theatre, Sea Hunt, Highway Patrol, Everglades, Ripcord, Men Into Space and the other 20+ shows produced by Ziv that wound up with MGM. Also doesn't bode well for Patty Duke Show as Sony has yet to release any shows in black and white. I guess that will now be buried alongside Father Knows Best, Donna Reed, Burns and Allen and Dennis the Menace.

#2 of 54 OFFLINE   David_Blackwell

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Posted September 14 2004 - 04:19 AM

You never know, Sony might finally decide to license some TV shows that they don't think they can make any money on. One can dream and hope.
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#3 of 54 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted September 14 2004 - 04:46 AM

Quote:
Sony has yet to release any shows in black and white.

Sony did include two B&W episodes of The Donna Reed Show on one of those give-away DVDs on cereal boxes earlier this year. It was an experiment for which only the company knows the results.
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#4 of 54 OFFLINE   BernieV

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Posted September 14 2004 - 05:40 AM

My hunch is that all the old series will eventually see some form of release. The reason being they are a low risk, low cost source of revenue, and the studios will eventually dust them off and package them for sale.

Product marketing is a matter of timing. Right now there are a lot of newer series in the pipeline. It doesn't make sense to flood the market with everything in your catalog. You'll just be competing for consumer dollars with your other offerings. After all the low hanging fruit has been picked, the studios will start going after the vintage productions. We saw it happen with LDs. There were more old movies and tv productions released in the 80's and 90's than exist on DVD today.

Just give them time. Sony isn't going to throw away anything with sales potential any more than Turner is going to dump its archives to free up storage space.

#5 of 54 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 14 2004 - 06:34 AM

The big problem is not whether the shows will be released-I suspect most of the popular ones will be eventually, but what they are going to use as masters.

#6 of 54 OFFLINE   Randy Gray

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Posted September 14 2004 - 11:40 AM

Wasn't Green Acres among the MGM shows? Wonder if they'll continue that one.

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#7 of 54 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted September 14 2004 - 01:03 PM

Quote:
Wasn't Green Acres among the MGM shows? Wonder if they'll continue that one.


I asked MGM's reps for a status report on future seasons of the show and was told that they had none to give. That was about three weks ago. The studio sold about 80,000 copies of the first set--not spectacular, about $2 million in revenue (figuring a discounted price of about $25 each).
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#8 of 54 OFFLINE   Mark To

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Posted September 14 2004 - 05:30 PM

Lets see, $2 million in revenue for a show that's owned outright with no residuals or music clearances to pay for. I could see where that could cause them to sour on the series if that's all they made for something it COSTS THEM ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, save productions costs. I don't get it. Even if they made $50,000, that's still $50,000 more than they would make by not releasing a show. Isn't profit profit, even if its a small one?

#9 of 54 OFFLINE   ScottCor

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Posted September 15 2004 - 01:22 AM

I agree...gheez, that's a good income for little effort..They have to be realistic about what to expect in sales. If they keep releasing a variety of shows on DVD it's all going to be a nice steady flow of profit...what do they get by holding on to it.......nothing.
The thing that annoys me about these companies is the higher ups just don't get it. I would like to see a real Movie/TV fan in charge of these operations and not some suit who has no clue about public perception..Don't they realize they kill sales and support of future sales by starting and stopping series sets. People get leery of buying sets now because of sets stopping..who wants a half finshed series set. ex: Mary Tyler Moore Show,Mad About You..etc..More people would commit to these sets if they knew they would all come out. Another thing they have to realize is a large portion of the buying public don't always run out and buy each set right away, they tend to judge by the opening sales, which arn't always accurate. Many people can't afford to buy all the sets they want right away so they buy one set then after a month or more by another set. I just don't see the rush to shut down sales, they are still making a profit..sometimes slow but still a profit and building good will with season set buyers in the long run seems the better investment.

#10 of 54 OFFLINE   Mark To

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Posted September 15 2004 - 04:34 AM

This whole TV DVD craze seems to have caught them by complete surprise, not unlike the original VHS home video craze did 25 years ago. Fox originally leased 50 movies to a guy in Michigan for a couple of hundred thousand dollars. He started Magnetic Video, basically the first home video company to release movies on a wide scale. Fox execs thought they were pulling one over on this guy because they felt that no one would pay for these movies, all at least 5 years old or more and had been on TV many times. A year and a half later they bought his company from him for $7.7 million dollars. So, with some exceptions, the rule of thumb seems to be that it takes the studios several years to figure a new market out. They don't seem to understand that people will pay to watch shows they like without cuts, speed-ups, bugs, crawls, squeezes and whatever other butchery over-the-air television inflicts. Not to mention the fact that for much of their older product, home release is the only outlet left available to them.

#11 of 54 OFFLINE   Casey Trowbridg

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Posted September 15 2004 - 05:08 AM

Quote:
I would like to see a real Movie/TV fan in charge of these operations
and not some suit who has no clue about public perception..

Yeah, if I ran a business the type of person I would put in charge is a uber-movie/TV fan that is totally experienced in the business world so he can release as much product as possible in an effort to give the fans what they want. Fans want original music so we'll pay outrageous music licenses to get a show out, we'd better spend a lot of money on extras, because fans have been shown to want those types of things as well. This being DVD of course it goes without saying that they want the best possible picture and sound for any show we might put out regardless of how much of a nitch audience the show may have, so lets poor lots of money in to restoration. Anymore legal hurtles we have to come across can easily be solved by pooring some more money in to the project, then we'll try to make the packaging as cool as possible and we've got ourselves some pretty good releases.

If I did this, with a company I owned, it might help me achieve another life long goal of living in a cardboard box on the side of the road.

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people would commit to these sets if they knew they would all come out.

So in the case of a show like Mary Tyler Moore which you mentioned, Fox should lose money on 6 different sets hoping that when set 7 comes out that a rush of buyers will go out and buy all 7 seasons, thus making all of those previous sets profitable.
This inspite of the fact that:
1. In no case has it been proven that the public would react this way. A show like Futurama has seen its final release, and now that all 4 are out its not like a whole bunch of people are going out and buying it thus helping those releases climb the sales charts.
2.
Quote:
Many people can't afford to buy all the
sets they want right away so they buy one set then after a month or more by another set.

Yes, but the effect also goes the other way, if something comes out on DVD, and I don't buy it within the first 2 or 3 months of it being out the chances of me buying it at all are slim to none. If people are doing it like you say than what good would it do for a studio again lets say Fox with MTM, to put out all 7 seasons of the Mary Tyler Moore show at once if it will take someone between 7 and 14 months to buy them all? That's an awful lot of product sitting on the shelf taking up space that could be used to move product that is selling better right now, thus making the studio even more money.

Now if what we learned from the TV on DVD conference last year is true, and I believe that it is, then Fox has stated that they've found that season 1 of a show and season 2 of a show will sell in the same range in terms of units sold. In other words its not like season 1 of the Simpsons sold a million copies and season 2 sees the number spike to 2 million.
I suspect a more likely example would be that if season 1 of M*A*S*H sells 100,000 units then season 2 might sell 90,000 units to 110,000 units. (not hard numbers, but just an example) now interestingly enough nothing was said about shows more popular seasons selling better than less popular seasons, and one only needs to look at the Simpsons where season 1 sold more units than season 3 which is considered by many of the fans to be when the show really started getting good. You can chalk part of that up to season 1 being out for considerably longer than season 3, but if there are a lot of people out there that have not bought any seasons of the show prefering to wait until the entire run is released then even if more copies of season 3 are moved, a similar number of season 1 copies also need to be moved, because according to your reasoning these people are now committed to buying the entire series because all seasons are available.

Quote:
they tend to judge by the opening sales, which arn't always accurate.

Look, I don't know for how long a company keeps track of how well a show is selling. I can take a guess and say that they probably don't track it for a year, but its probably longer than a week or 2. So don't assume that a company is basing whether or not to release a second season of a show singularly on how well it sells in the first week of sales. I'm sure that Randy Salas would probably know this better than I, but I would think that they gage the sales figures for at least a couple of months. For instance, his Green Acres example of it selling 80,000 units, I'm not sure that all 80,000 units were sold in 1 week.

The reality is that these studios have to walk a fine line. They could release every show in the vaults with all the extras and restoration people clammer for, and be the most fan friendly studio in the world. However, if they do this, and are not profitable then eventually they would have to close or be sold to a studio that manages itself better, and what good is a fan friendly studio if it is no longer in business. You have to strike a balance, you have to provide a product that people will want to buy and yet at the same time ensure that doing so will result in your ability to continue doing so down the line.

I do agree with Mark in that I do think that some of the studios were caught off guard in terms of just how popular this TV on DVD industry has become. Although you need to put some perspective on it.

According to Randy's article from a month or so back, the most popular selling TV show on DVD is The Simpsons season 1, and it sold something like 2.35 million copies.

Finding Nemo sold 6.4 million copies on its first day of release.

#12 of 54 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted September 15 2004 - 06:19 AM

Quote:
Lets see, $2 million in revenue for a show that's owned outright with no residuals or music clearances to pay for. I could see where that could cause them to sour on the series if that's all they made for something it COSTS THEM ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, save productions costs. I don't get it. Even if they made $50,000, that's still $50,000 more than they would make by not releasing a show. Isn't profit profit, even if its a small one?


Just to clarify, revenue and profit are not the same thing. That $2 million is a sales figure. It includes the store's mark-up (and cut). Subtract that out--along with production, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, publicity and other costs--and you get the actual profit, which is probably a lot closer to the $50,000 figure than one might think. But, as you note, it's still a profit.
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#13 of 54 OFFLINE   ScottCor

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Posted September 15 2004 - 08:27 AM

Gheez Casey ,I never would have guessed a twentysomething, sarcastic know it all..lol...First of all I'm talking as a fan of these shows and secondly as a professional who knows about business..Run the right way a profit could be had very easily. I never said anything about loading these releases with extras..just bare bones uncut episodes would do just fine. Sure some set's sell better then others.. I could go on and on but what's the point..obviously you don't like quality television and your right let's just bow down to this fine trend setting time we live in and just release cartoons , reality shows ,and shows that have been on air within 2 years as of course everything that came before that must be crap. I really don't think they know what there doing as far as TV on DVD goes, and as has been said they are still learning as they go. Gheez, you think soembody should have done some marketing to see if MTM was going to sell well??..maybe they did..maybe it would have sold better..who knows..All I know is you don't.

#14 of 54 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted September 15 2004 - 09:31 AM

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obviously you don't like quality television and your right let's just bow down to this fine trend setting time we live in and just release cartoons , reality shows ,and shows that have been on air within 2 years as of course everything that came before that must be crap.

Yeah, this is that same discussion again. Posted Image Bottom line is,
studios could indeed make profit on classic older shows as well as the new "in vogue" garbage; it's just that they shouldn't expect MARY TYLER MOORE to sell as many units as ANNA NICOLE SMITH would. MTM is a great award-winning classic that deserves to be available. So they make nickels instead of quarters on it... So what? It's still PROFIT. And there are still plenty of ever-so-current television flockers who'll be sure to buy THE OSBOURNES and BIG BROTHER to make up the millions missed by the good shows.

#15 of 54 OFFLINE   Casey Trowbridg

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Posted September 15 2004 - 04:45 PM

Scott,where did I suggest that all I wanted studios to do is release shows from the past 2 years and reality TV?

I didn't.

I own M*A*S*H, I own Mary Tyler Moore, and the Dick Van Dyke show and many many others.

Here's the thing though, those more current shows, whether or not you or I like them are going to sell better than those classic shows. Studios are largely concerned with what is going to sell better. Look at the list Randy posted a few months ago of the top 10 selling DVDs of all time, and you will notice that the oldest show on there is the Simpsons from way back in 1989.

Reality is that studios can't just base every decision they make on what the fans would really like, because sure for some shows, just having them uncut would be enough, but that is only true for some people. Others will look at those very same sets, see no extra features and take a pass. Its funny, this world we live in, not everyone is going to have the same exact taste, and so in order to reach a large audience you must try and appeal to the most people as possible from within that audience.

Sure, I'd never buy the Anna Nicole show on DVD, but there are probably people that would and did, and that's fine for them. I would've bought the Dick Van Dyke show sands bonus material, but for others it might be a huge selling point.

This is like that argument from awhile ago, where someone asked why not let fans of these shows, help create and participate in making bonus material for these releases, and sometimes legally its not that easy, and why in this case sometimes for the purposes of the bottomline its not that simple either.

If the Simpsons is going to generate more profit for Fox than the Mary Tyler Moore show, then why should fox not want to put out the more profitable show? Even if both made a profit why wouldn't they want to focus their attention on the more profitable one?

We could also get in to the whole idea that collectors posting thoughts on the internet are hardly a good indicator of what the general buying public will do, and all the reasons why, but I already did that for the hundredth time in another thread, so I'll leave it for everyone else to fill in why that is true.

#16 of 54 OFFLINE   FrancisP

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Posted September 15 2004 - 04:53 PM

There were no guarantees if Warner had won that any of these would be released. Case in point is Dark Shadows.
For MPI, its obviously big enough for them to continue the
series and throw in some interviews. Yet for Warner apparently the movies are not big enough to even consider.
If MPI had the rights, it probably would get released.

There are two things I like about Sony that I didn't about Warner. Sony's library is not as large as Warner's so there's plenty of slack for Sony to fill in with MGM's library. Secondly, Sony is assuming $2 billion in debt. They can't afford to sit on the library because they need
the cash flow. While this doesn't guarantee anything, the
odds are better than if Warner had won.

Also I remember reading that MGM was pleased with the sales of Green Acres and Mr Ed. As a result they were looking at releasing other tv shows.

#17 of 54 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted September 15 2004 - 10:40 PM

Quote:
If the Simpsons is going to generate more profit for Fox than the Mary Tyler Moore show, then why should fox not want to put out the more profitable show? Even if both made a profit why wouldn't they want to focus their attention on the more profitable one?

I know The Simpsons is considered a great show too, so I won't challenge that. But once again, why the mentality that it has to be "one or the other" released instead of both? They can make $2 million off The Simpsons and also a handy $800,000 off MTM. But at least their consumers are happy on both ends, and it's better to have MORE people interested in you and your product, not less.

#18 of 54 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted September 16 2004 - 12:02 AM

Quote:
But once again, why the mentality that it has to be "one or the other" released instead of both?
It's not like there are infinite resources, even for a major studio. They've got a certain number of people working in their home video division, production on the discs requires manpower, and there's replication. That's before you get to the issue of how retailers allocate their shelf-space (or how e-tailers allocate their warehouse space), and how promotional dollars can be effectively spent. And not just by the studio; is Best Buy more likely to use space in their weekly ad for Mary Tyler Moore or Dark Angel?
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#19 of 54 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted September 16 2004 - 01:15 AM

Quote:
I know The Simpsons is considered a great show too, so I won't challenge that. But once again, why the mentality that it has to be "one or the other" released instead of both? They can make $2 million off The Simpsons and also a handy $800,000 off MTM.


I know you're just using arbitrary numbers as an example, expressing the difference between Simpsons S1 and MTM S1 as a 5:2 ratio (or 100:40).

But to give you an idea of how deadly MTM S1 was for Fox, the real ratio between unit sales (not profits; don't know what they are) of the two is more like 100:3.6--meaning that for every 100 copies of Simpsons S1 sold, 3.6 copies of MTM S1 were sold. Ouch.
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#20 of 54 OFFLINE   ScottCor

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Posted September 16 2004 - 02:12 AM

Casey,
I realize what your saying but I geuss as a fan myself of quality TV, you come across as a studio head trying to burst my bubble instead of a fan. I just want to see the good older stuff released..that's all I want..bare bones, no extras..just the episodes uncut and complete. If there going to release a series then finish the job don't start it then stop just because the profits arn't as huge as they thought. At least they could try a second season of MTM or other shows that have been stopped, bare bones, with no extras and at a lower price just to see if that would work better. The shows deserve a chance to succeed. Anwyays, let's just hope that they learn and try different approaches instead of just quitting.
It sounds as though Paramount is gearing up for allot of TV releases....Wings..please!!!!!!


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