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DVD: Whatever happened to all the "rental windows" talk?

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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 02 2002 - 04:58 AM

Throughout the year 2000 we were hearing cautionary statements from various studio executives that the rental-window business model for DVD was being seriously discussed. Similarly, A/V journalists were warning that some studios were poised to implement a rental-window policy for new titles on DVD sometime in 2001. Then, as 2001 wore on, we continued to hear warnings that a paradigm shift away from the day-and-date, sell-through DVD business model for new titles was almost certain. Now, here we are at the midpoint of 2002, and DVD is still completely a day-and-date, sell-through medium. Have the studios, perhaps, let the cooler heads prevail? Are they coming to see that one of the vital components to DVD-Video's astonishing success has been the reasonable pricing afforded by the day-and-date, sell-through approach to marketing new titles? This is an interesting wrinkle in the often troubled relationship between home-theater enthusiasts and the content providers. We are used to being screwed occasionally, and resent sometimes being looked at merely as a source of revenue. But I sincerely hope DVD remains completely a sell-through medium.

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Andrew_Sch



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Posted July 02 2002 - 05:00 AM

I think Blockbuster just eventually gave up and then tried to make it seem that they had been fighting against rental windows the whole time. Of course, I could have just made that entire sentence up, but I thought I remembered hearing that.
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#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted July 02 2002 - 05:02 AM

My guess? The studios found the current sell-through model to be very profitable, and gave Blockbuster the finger. (Maybe more my hope than my guess.)
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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Butch C

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Posted July 02 2002 - 05:13 AM

This thread is so unsure of itself!

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted July 02 2002 - 05:30 AM

Given the fact that DVD is still a enjoying a phenomenal growth stage, there are literally millions of new DVD owners every year and those new owners want to buy DVD software. I don't know what the rent vs. buy ratio might be, but it must be close because if far more people were renting versus buying, I don't think the studios would have any qualms about going the rental window route. I think they are selling enough DVD's to keep their profit-margin executives happy. Bruce
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#6 of 19 OFFLINE   jeff peterson

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Posted July 02 2002 - 06:53 AM

My father in law just bought one of those Samsung combo players (VCR/DVD). He's always been an avid movie theater goer but we (my wife and I) couldn't figure out his motivation since he was only an occasional VHS tape renter.

We just visited him this past weekend and he had a PILE of UNOPENED DVDs he couldn't wait to view. He bought them all Posted Image just like a kid in a candy store. I'm sure he's representative of a lot of new DVD purchasers...the thrill of owning a movie with all those extras!

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted July 02 2002 - 07:00 AM

When Blockbastard put up those billboards saying "Renting is better than buying- will you really watch that DVD more than once?" that basically confirmed that a lot of people are buying DVDs instead of renting. I rented laserdiscs occasionally since they were overpriced, but I haven't rented a single DVD since there's been no shortage of ones to buy.
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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted July 02 2002 - 08:19 AM

This was one battle that I was sure to be lost by us then all of a sudden, the issue was swept under the carpet and forgotten. I for one, want to see things remain as they are in this respect. This was/is one of the major bonus points of DVD.
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#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted July 02 2002 - 08:27 AM

I think they've found that releasing a bare bones, then an SE satisfies most of the rental window needs. and that the revenue stream from more people buying more than makes up the difference I'm going out on a limb, but if they ever get video on demand going BB is toast

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Jon_W


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Posted July 02 2002 - 08:45 AM

A form of rental window does exist now. Columbia just released Black Hawk Down as a bare bones edition and then later will release it as an SE. Coumbia will being doing the same thing with Panic Room. Granted what studios are doing is not what traditional constitutes a rental window, but it has some of the same aspects.
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#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Jonathan David

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Posted July 02 2002 - 11:14 AM

Have pity with the majority of Region 2 U.K. dvd owners, where the DVD rental window is used by the majority of studios!

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Nick Sievers

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Posted July 02 2002 - 01:25 PM

It's the same in Australia, It seems that only the real 'BIG' films are sell-through right from the start. Like Star Wars (I assume will be), Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Shrek. Otherwise people will be shopping in other countries for their DVD purposes, which I do anyway.
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#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted July 02 2002 - 02:10 PM

The barebones followed by an SE version model has worked as a rental window for me--rented Mothman Prophecies and loved the movie, but won't buy until an SE is released. I plan to rent LOTR when the basic version comes out in August, and buy the SE in November, though might relent and buy both. I just bought the Vista Series Pearl Harbor after a co-worker committed to buy my old version for $10. This plus the rebate will bring my cost for the Vista edition down to $5.
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#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted July 02 2002 - 08:41 PM

[quote] He bought them all just like a kid in a candy store. [quote]
This is a tremendously good point.

I'm sure that the studios have noticed that DVD is currently still growing on an exponential curve and that new adoptees are scooping up DVDs' by the dozen. Many of these same people would never even have thought about purchasing the VHS equivalents.

There is therefore absolutely no need for the studios to even think about "upsetting the applecart" at this point. And, as has been stated multiple times here, the initial "bare bones" release of a new title followed a few months later by a CE is serving basically the same purpose.

I think the "rental window" concept for DVD is dead in this country (and not lamented)!

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Brad Eisenhauer

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Posted July 03 2002 - 02:46 AM

I thought I read somewhere that Best Buy had threatened to stop carrying titles from any studio that went to a "rental window" model. Am I just imagining things, or does anyone else remember this too?
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#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Eric Bass

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Posted July 03 2002 - 02:50 AM

[quote] DVD: Whatever happened to all the "rental windows" talk? [quote]

They replaced it with a new strategy of offering the DVD right away and then offering the Special Edition 3-6 months down the road. End result is same, I wind up waiting longer to buy my DVD's.

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   MikeEckman



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Posted July 03 2002 - 03:25 AM

My opinions on this matter was that the studios were getting pressure on both sides of the boat... In this corner wearing the red trunks: The online e-tailers, B&M retailers, and DVD enthusiasts. Their argument was that people want to buy DVDs and these retailers are making a huge percentage of their sales on DVD, and stand to lose alot of money if a rental window came out because the excitement of being able to see a new movie on DVD the first time would die down if the movie was available to rent rather than buy. In the other corner wearing the black trunks: Blockbuster and other rental chains and Greedy Studio Executives. Their argument was that they should stick with what works, and use the VHS model that has been in place for almost 20 years, not only that, the studios probably thought they could have their cake and eat it too, by selling copies of these movies to Blockbuster at astronomical prices ($80-$120 per copy) and then selling them at a sell through price 6 months later and making a ton of money. In my opinion, the battle is not over with, I just think the controversy died down. I would be willing to bet that the studios are still contemplating this, but are taking a "wait and see" attitude. I betcha that they realize that they are making a ton of money as it is, and the DVD-boom is not over with yet. When the market has been sufficiently saturated, and the growth of households with DVD players starts to stabilize, I think they will take another look at the rental model and see if they still think its profitable. So, all we can do is just keep doing what were doing. Keep buying DVDs. I think the state of home video is pretty darn good (minus the rise of P&S discs coming out) right now, and if things stay the way they are, the rental window model will never see the light of day.
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#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted July 03 2002 - 03:32 AM

[quote] by selling copies of these movies to Blockbuster at astronomical prices ($80-$120 per copy) and then selling them at a sell through price 6 months later and making a ton of money. [quote]
Nope, BB pays about $3-4 bucks per tape due to their revenue sharing deals AND they get to sell the tape PV later!

Half of what killed the mom&pop shop is the fact that they could either join RentTrak and take their chances at the revenue sharing (BB makes money because they can afford HUGE copy depth) or drop $80-120 a movie and not make their money back

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   RobTrev



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Posted July 03 2002 - 03:36 AM

What's funny is that studios are now advertising the fact that DVD doesn't have rent windows. The Shallow Hal radio commercial says something like "Buy it now on DVD or rent it on VHS!" No irony involved, but I found it pretty funny.
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