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If not DVD, why not on-demand? (1 Viewer)

Elena S

Supporting Actor
Jan 10, 2005
If the studio suits refuse to release shows that many of us want on DVD then why don't they at least make them available online for purchase on demand? Would it cost very much for them to do this? Surely it would be cheaper than putting the shows on disc and packaging them. It's not an ideal solution for those of us who would like to have the shows, but at least it's an avenue for us to see them again. Seems like it would be a win-win situation for studios.


Feb 24, 2007
Real Name
Joe Corey
eventually it will work that way. everyone is lining up their pay-per-view operations. the thing is that you still have to remaster and digitally transfer the shows.

Joseph DeMartino

Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1997
Real Name
Joseph DeMartino
Everybody talks as if pressing and distributing the physical discs were some kind of huge cost or a major factor in deciding what does and doesn't get released and this simply isn't the case. Replicating DVDs costs, quite literally, pennies per copy. Even at the birth of the format, DVDs were much cheaper to mass-produce than VHS tapes.

What makes DVDs expensive is what is on them. The shows themselves, the cost of digitizing and often cleaning up older titles, the cost of assembling extras, designing and programming menus, prepping 5.1 remixes and alternate sound tracks and subtitles and a million and one other things. Finally there are new contracts to be negotiated with various contributors and rights holders. Depending on the terms of all the original contracts (which varied enormously from studio to studio, year to year and even show to show) the studio could end up holding all rights for home video or very few. Contracts often contain strange loopholes, sometimes the result of errors, that mean a piece of music that was cleared for use in broadcast or even on videotape has to be paid for all over on disc.

This is the stuff that makes up at least 95% of the cost in producing a DVD set, and this is what determines how many sets at what price and what margin have to sell for the studio to make a reasonable profit. I doubt that there has been a single series that was so perfectly balanced "on the bubble" that releasing it via on-demand would have saved enough to make it profitable when a DVD release wouldn't have.

Then there's the fact that the market that can get on-demand downloads is a fraction of the market for DVDs. Here in the enthusiast's echo chamber we sometimes forget that not everybody in the world has high-speed internet access, digital cable or satellite and/or hundreds of gigabytes of storage on a fast computer to enjoy all this downloadable content. (And many people don't see the point of watching jittery video on a postage-stamp-sized cell phone or iPod screen - many more don't own a web & video enabled cell phone or iPod-like device.) So whatever theorectical savings a studio would realize would likely be wiped out by lower sales, which makes it less, not more, likely that a given release would turn a profit.



David Levine

Supporting Actor
Apr 25, 2006
Totally agree with Joe, but I do want to add 1 thing.

While the actual physical production of DVDs is quite cheap, what ends up costing studios TONS of money is returns.

Excess inventory is just a killer and I know for a fact that there are studios that have nearly a billion discs worth of returns in warehouses.

Glenn Curtis

Stunt Coordinator
Sep 11, 2005
I would also think that the for some shows that the studios would already have cleaned up and remastered versions available (eg Hawaii Five-O).

To make these available for VOD, they would not need to bother with any of the stuff currently on the DVDs (eg menus etc). The file would just be the episode itself.

I realise they would still have clearances, music rights etc but I would have thought it significantly cheaper than producing DVDs with the added shipping costs etc.

Personally, I would rather have the "best available" version of a show like The Name of The Game rather than never see it because it hasn't been remastered.

This is probably all a bit simplistic but I am sure VOD is the way things will go in the future.

If only they would make the stuff available outside the US!

Hank Dearborn

Supporting Actor
May 30, 2007
Real Name
I agree with the above post. Just give me what you have, even if it's just a dirty transfer (straight from film, not remastered, color corrected, etc.). Unfortunately a biproduct of the studios decisions to trash their 16mm warehouses about 2 decades ago is that many of the shows which have not been sold anywhere since do not exist on any usable format. They're not on tape and all that's in the vaults are the 35s. So a studio like Warner or Universal, which has ridiculously astronomical in-house costs, can never financially justify doing even simple transfers on older, more obscure titles. At least a lot of the classic Warner shows were transfered when they made their big sale to Good Life a few years ago. With Universal the story is bleaker as they have far more older product. A great deal of that got out into the collectors' market on film but some shows didn't. That's why even with Encore Westerns and Lone Star in Canada, you haven't seen some of the Universal owned classics like Wagon Train or the half hour Tales of Wells Fargo. They've never been put to tape and no one wants to pay the millions Universal would charge to do it.


Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 2005
Comcast On demand is already doing this.

Fantasy Island is on season 3,(all episodes air in order with a new one every week) and I believe they are still running Facts of Life, Who's the Boss, Diffrent Strokes, and more. I've burned a few eps to dvd-r.


Second Unit
Sep 14, 2005
Yep, and online services like Hulu are offering shows that haven't been put out on DVD yet, like "Lou Grant" and "It Takes a Thief." That's streaming, not download, but still -- they're available to see if you have a connection fast enough to handle it. I'd much rather buy to own, but streaming beats not being able to see it at all.

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