Television on DVD - Benefits of International Accessibility?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by AndrewDim, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. AndrewDim

    AndrewDim Auditioning

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Okay, so this seems a little more theoretical than most of the forum threads in this dept. but i feel that people this dedicated to a website and message board system ought to have something to say about this issue.

    I am currently working on a thesis paper for my senior exit requirement and am researching the recent explosion of marketing television shows in DVD format. I'm researching the possible benefits this may offer internationally, particularly to countries that are not able to receive a large range of American television shows if any through satellite or local transmission.

    My thesis will deal with glocalised issues of censorship and government control as well as economic status. My focal vantage point will start with the notion that inventions like TIVO and its improved DVD burning counterparts have increased piracy ease thus frightening the industry into mass production mode in order to provide an easily accessible, glossy, legitimate alternative.

    Why the sudden explosion of television to dvd? What are the ramifications of these marketing strategies? How will it affect international accessibility to American programming?

    I would love to hear you opinions and if you have read any recent articles on the issue i would love to hear about them so i may build up my database of source material.
     
  2. Murray C Park

    Murray C Park Auditioning

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2002
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    American TV programming has been sold cheaply around the globe for decades. In the UK when I was a kid prime time TV was full of Dallas, Dynasty, Starsky & Hutch, Cagney & Lacey, etc because it was so much cheaper for the TV companies to buy in this glossy stuff than to make something new. Some markets (e.g. the European Union) even introduced regulations to prevent an avalanche of cheap imports from killing off the demand for more expensive local productions.

    Of course I'm talking about the seventies and the eighties when the UK had 3 channels. Now thanks to digital satellite and cable we've got hundreds, many of which show endless reruns of popular American imports. Some of them also compete to bring us the latest American shows months before they hit our terrestrial networks (which are still mostly import-free at prime time, keeping the imports for early evening or late night).

    Because it's so cheap I find it difficult to imagine that there's any part of the world being deprived of American TV shows unless it's for reasons of censorship or market protection. If it's censorship then I see no reason to think that DVD box sets will be any kind of answer. For example:
    The UK only legalised hardcore porn a few years ago. Before that I used to swap VHS tapes of the latest TV shows with an ex-pat in Chicago. Every package of tapes he sent had been opened by UK Customs and the tapes had been checked to make sure they didn't contain porn. If you did want to buy hardcore porn you could get third generation VHS pirate copies on the black market. The inspections stopped when hardcore was legalised, but the point is that if the government did want to keep some stuff out they probably could and we'd be back to sourcing pirate copies or downloads (though the ISPs would probably also be censored).

    On the "sudden explosion" question you may be interested to know that the UK had a strong TV on VHS market long before DVD came on the scene. In fact shows like Star Trek TNG sometimes had new episodes released on VHS up to a few months before their first TV showing on satellite and then finally they'd hit network TV up to a couple of years later - almost the exact opposite of TV, cable, DVD sequence more normally seen in the US. So the UK at least, and by extension anyone who could mail order and play our tapes, have had the ability access and own this stuff at home for quite a while. Of course things have changed a bit with DVD - a season box set on disc is usually a lot cheaper than 13 tapes, not to mention the savings in shelf space. Also, although some series do get released here a few years earlier than in America we can pay a price in lack of extras (e.g. the no-frills West Wing box sets) which can make waiting for American releases a better bet - though in other cases like Buffy we got pretty much everything you guys are getting but we got it years earlier.

    Now I've got a question for you. In your second paragraph you talk about "benefits this may offer internationally, particularly to countries that are not able to receive a large range of American television shows". How exactly is having access to Friends or The Sopranos or Buffy supposed to "beneift" any country. Don't get me wrong, I love American TV and spend a fortune collecting it on DVD, but most of it bears very little resemblance to real life and much of the drama focuses on the less pleasant side of American life. Even the more idealistic West Wing has no shortage of shady political deals and compromises, not to mention numerous examples of America bullying smaller countries into doing what they're told. On the whole, other than as escapist entertainment I don't think American TV is a good example to the world of anything.

    Another thought on your suggestion that the industry is now mass-producing cheap box sets to deter piracy. I got into DVD before it was officially launched in the UK. I tracked all of the new releases and pre-ordered them because there were good discounts on advanced orders. I got into the habit of buying every new release that I liked. Now there's just too much. Even with a pretty big monthly budget for DVD there's no way I can keep up with the flood of new product onto the market. So I've limited my film purchases to really special editions and I now wait to pick them up at greatly reduced prices when they inebvitably get reduced only months after they were released. Most films I can just record on DVD from a nice high quality satellite showing instead. I've focused my buying power on TV box sets but even here I'm having to pass on a lot of stuff I'd like to have on my shelves, at least until it drops well below the launch price, though many series are available to download on the file-sharing networks so that's another option. And of course in another few months the dual-layer DVD burners will hit the market, so it'll be possible to copy even dual-layer discs without any of that shrinking or splitting nonsense. No, it seems to me that by swamping me with more choice than I can afford they're actually reducing the chances of me making a specific legitmate purchase.

    The irony of all this is that I already own more hours of purchased and home recorded DVD material that I could ever watch even if I wasn't working. So even aside from the fanincial considerations I'm having to become more and more ruthless about what DVDs I select to join my already overgrown collection. While TV on DVD does represent good value for money it also adds huge chunk of viewing time to the "to be watched" list, so perhaps it's not the bargain it first seems.
     
  3. Vincent Matis

    Vincent Matis Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 1999
    Messages:
    491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The great benefit is that we finally have easy (but no so cheap) access to US TV Shows in their original language ! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. JohnAP

    JohnAP Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A good point abot the UK dvd market was made above. Because of syndication rights in America, many American television shows were restricted from any home video release in the U.S. , while they were made readily available in the UK and many other countries. Buffy, for instance, was available in full seasons on vhs and then dvd over there, while American audiences had to wait until after the syndication run on fx following season 5.

    The big change in the speed of these releases, I think, was the Malcolm in the Middle season 1 set because it was a popular show that went out on dvd before the syndication rights were sold and when they were, the dvd didn't decrease the value of the show in syndication at all. Suddenly, dvd sets of shows still early in their run were seen as a way of making extra money and building buzz on a show and we get home video releases on many shows faster than we ever would have before.
     
  5. AndrewDim

    AndrewDim Auditioning

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    First of all i must say thank you to everyone who responded to this thread... secondly i must note that the topic of my research has now moved from the push of television shows onto the dvd format and intense marketing strategies, that i have deemed a natural progression in technological development. My new focus is on the development of cross platform devices like TiVo and ReplayTV, more specifically on the DVD-R developments and network sharing previously provided by ReplayTV models previous to their bankruptcy and being bought by another company.

    I want to especially thank Murray C Park for the in depth discussion, and answer his question to me.

    He posted: "In your second paragraph you talk about "benefits this may offer internationally, particularly to countries that are not able to recieve a large range of American television shows." How exactly is having access to Friends or The Sopranos or Buffy supposed to "benefit" any country."

    In response to this query, i must restate my position on the issue as pertinent to my new argument. I am going to examine the way that american television feeds in such large quantities influences local cultural shifts in specific countries. What threats these feeds may pose to a rapidly evolving global village and to a 'globalized culture'. I will examine both the good and bad theoretical arguments regarding the issue. I really liked your response to my question though and thank you for all your time in formulating it.

    I will make my best attempt to post my final paper on this thread so you can see the route i chose to tackle such a huge and explosive issue.
     

Share This Page