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Universal/NBC has a lousy infrastructure


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#1 of 59 Michael Alden

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Posted January 30 2007 - 01:53 PM

A source in the industry has confirmed something that I had heard previously. Universal's in-house transfer costs are so outrageous that it makes it near impossible for them to make any profit on all but the highest selling sets. Get this, a single episode transfer from film costs them $5000. That means a single season series with 26 episodes costs them $130,000 right off the bat. Before DVD authoring, packaging, etc. At those prices it's no wonder they are the kings of one and done. With that type of idiotic setup they probably have to sell 50,000 sets just to break even. So when people ask why such and such isn't coming out, take a look at how the studios structure their setups and that will give you a good indication. And it's unconfirmed but I believe Warner has a similar screwy setup although the price I hear they have is even higher ($7000 an episode). That's why anything even close to being considered borderline will never see the light of day from those 2 companies.

#2 of 59 MatthewA

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Posted January 30 2007 - 02:41 PM

Warner charges $7000 for one episode? No wonder they use off-the-shelf tapes for "Dallas." Remastering alone of the entire series would cost $2,499,000. (That price times 357 episodes)

What does it cost with videotaped shows since they can't really be "remastered" the way film can be?

Enough is enough, Disney. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray.

 

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#3 of 59 Derek Miner

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Posted January 30 2007 - 03:59 PM

I have heard from people who work in broadcasting mention that costs for obtaining tapes of Warner Bros. catalog series and movies are high, and even higher if you need an edited or captioned version. They also supposedly store their masters in an underground vault in the midwest, so if you need something from them, the tape needs to get to their LA people before it can get to you. I've also heard some bad things about the delivered masters of Warner properties. QC from their subcontracted dub houses is poor or non-existent.
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#4 of 59 Steve...O

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Posted February 03 2007 - 12:35 PM

Incredible. Thanks for sharing. That does explain a lot. One wonders if this $5,000 is the actual incremental cost or if it is fully loaded with overhead attached. If this is just incremental the fully loaded cost would be even more astronomical which means that a huge number of units would need to be sold just to break even. Does the $5,000 include restoration costs?

If the studio's cut is $5 to $7 per box set (I don't know if this is anywhere near accurate but I suspect consumers would be surprised how low the number is) then they would need to sell more than 30k units to break even on a vintage show with 30 - 39 episodes per season. That's a lot of units for a show that probably has a limited fan base.
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#5 of 59 David_Blackwell

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Posted February 03 2007 - 03:49 PM

No wonder they don't like to use some songs and sub another one. But sometimes it is good to just see some of these shows see the light of day on DVD. Still with the costs, they do look to make money on them. Money drives many of these releases period.
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#6 of 59 chas speed

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Posted February 03 2007 - 04:01 PM

Universal is pretty famous for not bothering to remaster any of their tv shows for dvd, so your quotes are pretty insane. A lot of their older tv shows were remastered 20 or 30 years ago so they still look better then some studios. Look at their Night Gallery season one dvd release. They didn't spend a dime on the transfers and sold the set, that only incuded 6 episodes and the pilot for 60 dollars. My heart bleeds for this "poor studio".

#7 of 59 MatthewA

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Posted February 03 2007 - 05:36 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chas speed
Universal is pretty famous for not bothering to remaster any of their tv shows for dvd, so your quotes are pretty insane. A lot of their older tv shows were remastered 20 or 30 years ago so they still look better then some studios. Look at their Night Gallery season one dvd release. They didn't spend a dime on the transfers and sold the set, that only incuded 6 episodes and the pilot for 60 dollars. My heart bleeds for this "poor studio".

This explains why we won't see season 2 for awhile, if ever.

Enough is enough, Disney. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray.

 

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#8 of 59 Derek Miner

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Posted February 03 2007 - 05:49 PM

As far as broadcast outlets go, Universal has been better in many respects than Warner Bros.
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#9 of 59 Will_C

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Posted February 04 2007 - 05:40 AM

Well, they've announced Airwolf season 3 coming out in May so I'm pretty happy with Universal right now. I don't know the sales figures, but I heard that season 1 didn't sell as much and they'd hoped. It took 1.5 years, but we just got season 2 at Christmas and now an announcement for season 3 in a few months. I don't know how it will look, but I'm happy with the appearance of the first two sets on an older, 4:3 analog television. Might change my mind when I play them on a modern HDTV. But I just can't be mad at Universal right now since they listened to a number of us here at HTF and stopped putting out those damned defective double sided discs and went back to single sided dvds. At least I like to tell myself that we here were at least partly responsible for their change. I freely admit I don't know about studio overhead when it comes to producing tv on dvd sets, I'm just honestly glad to get shows that I enjoyed at better than Star Trek set prices. Not knocking Paramount, but since I've purchased all the ST sets, I'm glad that most everything else is half price or less.
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#10 of 59 Jay_B!

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Posted February 04 2007 - 08:29 AM

it totally makes sense now why Warner and Universal are so pisspoor at giving shows another chance. Sony, Fox and Paramount have plenty of times given an abandoned show a reprieval, just look at the upcoming Mad About You, Happy Days, Laverne and Mork sets. Whereas Warner and Universal seem quite adamant that one chance was enough and nevermore. They need to lower the transfer costs so sitcoms that aren't Friends are given a fair shake.

#11 of 59 Charles Ellis

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Posted February 05 2007 - 01:15 AM

On the other hand, at least Universal, Paramount and Warners have made extensive dips into their back catalogs, even for "best of" compilations, which is more than I can say for Fox, which is sitting on a shocking amount of pre-1980 classics that have yet to see the light of day:

Batman
Peyton Place
The Green Hornet
Room 222
The Paper Chase
Burke's Law
Honey West
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
Bus Stop
Judd: For The Defense
Adventures In Paradise
Bracken's World
-

you get the idea. At least NBC Universal is willing to try out their older titles. I wish there were a way that Fox and Universal could be contacted regarding their TV releases on DVD. If they had consumer liasons or websites to that end like Sony's DVD survey site, we'd probably see more action.
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#12 of 59 MatthewA

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Posted February 05 2007 - 03:34 AM

They could always outsource the telecine work.

Enough is enough, Disney. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray.

 

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#13 of 59 Jay_B!

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Posted February 05 2007 - 06:45 AM

I'm tired of people complaining about Fox on DVD. They basically invented TV-DVD. They're not a case like Sony or Paramount where the bulk of their good shows are well over twenty/thirty years ago, instead Fox got lucky and were able to have some of the best things in the catalog happen in the last 15-20 years. Personally, isn't that a breath of fresh air instead of them being a company who is practically decades past it's prime like Sony is. You can tell this when Sony is only releasing one series on DVD that is actually still on the air, and even in that case (King Of Queens), that show is in it's twilight and will be a thing of the past come May.

Between M*A*S*H, WKRP, MTM, Bob Newhart, Lost In Space and others, you can't say Fox has done the absolute worst job, it just so happens that they happened to sit on a goldmine of 90's/00's action/sci-fi and animated shows, much like Sony does with the 1970's. I mean, I can see someone making a fuss about Anything But Love coming out before the aforementioned shows, but like it or not, it was shows like The Simpsons, The X-Files, Family Guy and Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel that showed the type of loyal cult followings that actually made the companies think that releasing a season of a TV show on DVD would be a good idea in the first place. Ripping on Fox is basically ripping on TV-DVD to begin with because if it wasn't for The X-Files, we wouldn't see ANY obscure 60's-80's shows, like it or not. It was those cult 90's Fox shows that showed insiders that fans are willing to buy their favorite shows on DVD.

#14 of 59 JoshuaB.

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Posted February 05 2007 - 07:08 AM

I agree with you, Jay, that Fox gets maligned far too much--they're still my favourite studio putting TV on DVD. They started the season-in-one-set release and if a program like The X-Files was expensive to start, they've since released much more reasonably-priced sets now. They started with a lot of contemporary shows, but they took risks on releasing programs too: 24 S1 was released after a much-hyped but poorly-rated season prior to the beginning of S2 and we all know how the show took off in ratings and DVD sales. Arrested Development was a ratings loser, but Fox risked putting it out on DVD and the show sold well.

Fox released many short-lived shows like Millennium, Dark Angel, Space Above and Beyond on DVD when many other short-lived contemporary shows languish in obscurity. Fox has managed to make cult programs like Irwin Allen's productions profitable by switching from poorly-selling season sets to two-part season sets--when many other studios would have given up. And they gave MTM a second chance years after a poor-selling S1 set (hopefully S5 is coming soon!) and has released other vintage sitcoms successfully. Ans while it remains to be seen how the music substitutions will be done on the WKRP sets, Fox has managed to make an "impossible" DVD release become quite possible.

Concerning the oft-requested Batman and Green Hornet: I'm sure Fox would love to release these sets (because they would rake in heaps of money), but their legal problems with Warner over ownership has delayed them indefinitely.

As for Universal, I've criticized them in the past (mostly because Night Gallery is only one of two incomplete TV-on-DVD sets in my collection), but I'm satisfied with their releases of Rockford Files and Incredible Hulk. And their Miami Vice releases have no substitutions, so I couldn't be happier about that!

#15 of 59 Charles Ellis

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Posted February 05 2007 - 10:07 AM

You guys (yes, Jay and Joshua, I mean you!) are being ignorant to one important point- if any of those vintage Fox shows had been owned by Warner of Paramount, a good number of them would either be already out or be in the process of being released! Why are "people complaing about Fox"? You guys are in the minority here- most of those Fox titles are TV classics that have won Emmy awards and are still have great followings. How old are you two anyway- let me guess: under 30, right? Well guys,there were TV shows around years before either one of you were born. And none of those vintage Fox shows could be called obscure just because you weren't alive when they first aired. Next you'll say that Firefly is greater and more relevant than say, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners or The Twilight Zone!
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#16 of 59 Jay_B!

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Posted February 05 2007 - 10:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Ellis
You guys (yes, Jay and Joshua, I mean you!) are being ignorant to one important point- if any of those vintage Fox shows had been owned by Warner of Paramount, a good number of them would either be already out or be in the process of being released! Why are "people complaing about Fox"? You guys are in the minority here- most of those Fox titles are TV classics that have won Emmy awards and are still have great followings. How old are you two anyway- let me guess: under 30, right? Well guys,there were TV shows around years before either one of you were born. And none of those vintage Fox shows could be called obscure just because you weren't alive when they first aired. Next you'll say that Firefly is greater and more relevant than say, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners or The Twilight Zone!

actually, Firefly was a very underrated show that got screwed because Fox didn't know how to air the show, they aired a serialized sci-fi show out of order. Comparing it with Lucy and Twilight Zone is like comparing apples and oranges since those shows ran a long time, and have been on long enough that they have been long-established as classics before most of us were born. Firefly OTOH was a short-lived cult sci-fi show that didn't really take a life on it's own until it came out on DVD.

Like it or not, you're still missing the point. It was basically shows like The X-Files, The Simpsons and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (all Fox shows from the 1990's) that actually ushered in the TV-DVD phenomenon. It took shows with a large devoted cult following like those three to get the studio execs to realize they can actually turn a huge profit over releasing TV shows on DVD... why were those shows released first? Fox knew those shows had the type of fanbase that would run out and buy them on DVD. Thanks to the success of those shows on DVD, you've gotten more and more older series out on DVD. If Fox didn't release those shows on DVD several years ago, it'd still be all about the Columbia House video club and tape-trading. There are so many shows out now to own that five years ago, I never would've imagined would be joining the Buffy and Sex And The City sets on my shelf. It was those 90's shows that turned TV-DVD into something to take seriously.

#17 of 59 Jay_B!

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Posted February 05 2007 - 10:49 AM

also, another thing, people do forget that Fox has definately released a large number of 60's and 70's shows.

What do you consider these shows?
MASH (which actually was released at a time when X-Files, Simpsons and Buffy were pretty much the only shows Fox had out on TV-DVD)
Mary Tyler Moore
Bob Newhart Show
Lost In Space
Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea
WKRP In Cincinnati
Addams Family

The way people are ripping into Fox, one would be led to believe there is nothing pre-1990, much less pre-1980, that they have released. There's seven shows right there, the most recent being released in 1978. Fox may not be as prompt as you want them to be, but at least there's a better shot you'll see another set from them if you wait long enough than you would a Warner show, who never break the "this show is abandoned" ideals. I mean, do you think Warner would've given Lost In Space or Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea a second glance? no... Fox did.

#18 of 59 Lenny Rakes

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Posted February 05 2007 - 11:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay_B!
I'm tired of people complaining about Fox on DVD. They basically invented TV-DVD. They're not a case like Sony or Paramount where the bulk of their good shows are well over twenty/thirty years ago, instead Fox got lucky and were able to have some of the best things in the catalog happen in the last 15-20 years. Personally, isn't that a breath of fresh air instead of them being a company who is practically decades past it's prime like Sony is. You can tell this when Sony is only releasing one series on DVD that is actually still on the air, and even in that case (King Of Queens), that show is in it's twilight and will be a thing of the past come May.

Between M*A*S*H, WKRP, MTM, Bob Newhart, Lost In Space and others, you can't say Fox has done the absolute worst job, it just so happens that they happened to sit on a goldmine of 90's/00's action/sci-fi and animated shows, much like Sony does with the 1970's. I mean, I can see someone making a fuss about Anything But Love coming out before the aforementioned shows, but like it or not, it was shows like The Simpsons, The X-Files, Family Guy and Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel that showed the type of loyal cult followings that actually made the companies think that releasing a season of a TV show on DVD would be a good idea in the first place. Ripping on Fox is basically ripping on TV-DVD to begin with because if it wasn't for The X-Files, we wouldn't see ANY obscure 60's-80's shows, like it or not. It was those cult 90's Fox shows that showed insiders that fans are willing to buy their favorite shows on DVD.

I guess Fox would be an okay company, if a) they were consistent about releasing both “Mary Tyler Moore” and “The Bob Newhart Show” and b) quit ripping off the consumers by splitting up season sets into over priced volume sets.

Seriously, I think Fox deserves all the criticism they received from the consumers for their greedy practices.

#19 of 59 David Williams

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Posted February 05 2007 - 11:57 AM

I don't have a horse in this race, but I have to point out that very few of the shows mentioned in Charles' post are familiar to today's audiences and would be a hard sell. It's not like we are talking about shows that have been rerun constantly on TV Land or Nick at Nite, thus bring exposure to a new generation.
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#20 of 59 Jay_B!

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Posted February 05 2007 - 12:17 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Williams
I don't have a horse in this race, but I have to point out that very few of the shows mentioned in Charles' post are familiar to today's audiences and would be a hard sell. It's not like we are talking about shows that have been rerun constantly on TV Land or Nick at Nite, thus bring exposure to a new generation.

exactly, if Night Court, a Warner show that ran for nearly a decade and was part of the classic "must see" Thursday NBC lineup in the 1980's, and has been in reruns fairly constantly since it left the airwaves, couldn't merit a second season set, the other shows mentioned likely would also follow suit with the same one-and-done practice that Warner seems to use with any sitcom that doesn't happen to be Friends, Fresh Prince or Full House. Fox would probably have a much easier time greenlighting a second season in some form or the other before Warner would.


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