To Warners, re: VHS sales

Gavin K

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First off, thank you for chatting with us last evening. It was informative, and the mentions of Clash of the Titans and Strange Brew made me very happy.
The one thing that bothered me however was that throughout the chat you continually mentioned VHS sales as a monitor for wether or not a release would do well on DVD.
Are your marketers that lazy, stubborn, or what? I have never collected VHS, (poor quality, no OAR, no extras, etc., etc.), yet I am completely addicted to DVD. And I don't think I am alone.
It doesn't seem like it would take a whole lot of research to figure out that DVD has more in common with Laserdiscs than VHS. And the majority of LD owners were BUYERS, not renters.
From a marketing standpoint, the home theater enthusiast, who wants nothing to do with VHS, buys the most DVDs. Most people on this forum own upwards of 100 discs, some in the thousands.
It seems to me that most studios would rather cater to the growing average DVD consumer who may buy the latest new release and not much else, rather than listen to and satisfy your smaller, loyal demographic who greatly outspends the masses.
We have disposable income. (and even those who don't spend like they do.)
Judging potential sales based upon VHS sales is looking backwards, and is ignorant of and towards your true audience.
Obviously you know some of this is true or you wouldn't have agreed to release Willy Wonka, Cats & Dogs, and Lord of the Rings in their OAR. It would seem that in the above cases that the marketing people were wrong, or they severely underestimated the passion of the DVD enthusiast. And by gauging prospective DVD sales with VHS sales they are merely headed down the same road again.
 

Ricky f

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Well said Gavin
If other studios are thinking like this I urge them not too.
With attitudes like this we will never see some great not so known movies on DVD
I hope Warner has a change of attitude
Regards,
Ricky
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Jesse Skeen

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After reading the transcript, I got the impression that if something on VHS doesn't sell well, they'll use that as a reason not to put out a DVD. What if the VHS isn't selling because nobody WANTS it on VHS and is waiting for the DVD?? Does that mean I have to go ahead and buy the "Pufnstuf" movie on VHS to convince Universal to put it out on DVD?
I did the same thing with laserdisc, which wasn't easy since hardly any of the 'weird' stuff came out on that format, but I wasn't going to be content buying something on VHS when that wasn't the format I wanted it on!
 

CharlesD

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Excellent post. Agreed.
I had the same feeling reading the transcript. I would not think that VHS sales (especially recently) are good indicators of future DVD sales for a given title. I never collected VHS, the DVD format was instrumental in turning me into a collector/film nut.
VHS is low resolution, has no important extras like director commentaries and deleted scenes, and, most importantly, is generally non OAR.
I am sure that there are many poor sellers on VHS that would turn a profit if done right on DVD.
Over the last 2 years most people who might collect movies will have already migrated to DVD. It might be more enlightening, when considering catalog releases, to examine how well LD sales of that title were going 5 years ago, rather than VHS.
And it apparently still needs to be said:
No OAR = No Sale
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[Edited last by CharlesD on October 17, 2001 at 04:25 PM]
 

Tom Rhea

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I've spent, at most, $500 on pre-recorded vhs movies (and that's a very generous figure) ever. I've spent at least $5,000 on dvds since 10/99. I wasn't really interested in movies at home until dvd, and I sure won't be spending another penny on vhs at this point. Basing a decision on whether or not to release a movie on dvd on vhs sales is a stupid business decision.
 

Jeff Ulmer

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I never collected VHS, and maybe have 10 prerecorded tapes total. I have quite a few more DVDs than that. Most of the people I know who buy DVDs never bought VHS; those that were collectors bought laserdisc, others were never interested in collecting before DVD.
Just FYI.
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Rob T

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Ever since we got the DVD player I haven't botten any VHS. I always buy DVD now.
When B5 came out on VHS I was too young and had no money to buy them and my parents didn't want to buy them for me, but now I have money and I will be sure to get the test disc and the season by season box sets (if they ever come). I'll be alerting my relatives of the test disc and it's importance in B5's DVD future.
I'll also be sure to buy all the animated Batman titles and Robin Hood: POT. I hope they're all OAR because if they're not then...
NO OAR = NO SALE
 

Frank Anderson

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I just want to chime in here and agree with what everyone else said. I never collected VHS like I do DVD. And since owning a DVD player (over 3 years now) I haven't bought one VHS title. I am still amazed that you (Warner) feel poor sales of VHS mean poor sales on DVD.
Frank
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Bjorn Olav Nyberg

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I wholeheartedly agree about comparing VHS to DVD sales do not make *very* much sense. Comparing VHS to VHS so to speak does certainly giove an indication to which titles are more popular I guess, but in any case DVD collectors buy a lot more than VHS collectors. I didn't even get a VCR until 1994-5 personally, and in the following years I bought around 100 VHS tapes in total. After getting into DVD I have bought almost 400 DVD's in two years (The DVD Tracker list in my signature counts boxes as 1)
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Jay E

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Everyone has to remember this about Warner's marketing department: they were the genuises who decided that the special edition of Willie Wonka should be full screen even though the regular edition was already released widescreen.
I haven't bought a VHS tape in 10 years. During the past 10 years I have bought over 800 lasers. DVD is a whole different ballgame than VHS. Warner's marketing dept needs to do be a little more in tune with the people who are buying their product.
 

NeilEdwards

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In the past, if I wanted a VHS tape from a classic movie, I would tape it from Turner Classic Movies.
However, with the advent of DVD's, the quality, the extras, EVERYTHING is so much more superior, I don't even pay attention to what is on TCM anymore. For the past two years I have been replacing my 2000+ collection of VHS tapes (oh, a few were purchased) with the DVDs when they came out. I now have 987 DVDs and now I am waiting for new releases to finish off my collection.
If you want to see my list, I will send it to you. You will see the massive amounts of Warner titles waiting to be replaced with the DVD.
 

Ken_McAlinden

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As a point of clarification, I think Warner is using VHS sales, compared to other VHS sales, as one tool for prioritization of their catalog releases. This is not inherently an illogical approach for a business to take. I think the real problem we have with them is that they are releasing very few titles compared to the size of their catalog, and as a result, anything that will be "low" volume will be pushed back indefinitely.
With this in mind, I'm actually more concerned with their use of DVD sales of "Little Women" and "Now Voyager" to guage reactions to all other black and white catalog titles than I am with the "analagous VHS sales" approach.
Regards,
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Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA
[Edited last by Ken_McAlinden on October 18, 2001 at 10:57 AM]
 

NeilEdwards

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I will be buying both NOW, VOYAGER and LITTLE WOMEN as they are on my list to upgrade from VHS. These might just be a good benchmark for WB also. Both Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn films and as we well know, the WB catalogue has a lot of BD and KH films that still need DVD treatment.
 

Mark_R

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I'll chime in with my .02 and voice my agreement that marketers should abandon using VHS sales as a primary predictor of DVD sales. I'd be curious to the formulas the marketers use. If they use:
DVD Sales est = VHS Sales * __%
maybe they should try something like:
DVD Sales est = Theater revenue * __%
or maybe use a weighted score like (where Wn = some weight value):
score = (Theater revenue * W1) + (length of theatrical run * W2) + (# of dvd players * W3) (and if you insist, + VHS revenue * some REALLY SMALL value)
I don't have time to put much thought into such formulas now, but I wonder what others who do might come up with. Some other possible variables to include:
Weeks on the chart
Length of time since latest release (or tv event)
Number of petition signers??? (not number of posts to a thread, since a lot of people post more than once, maybe number of posters to a thread)
If one knows the influence of awards a film gets one might be able to extract a metric
There should be enough DVDs out with sales figures to validate any formula used.
I also have never collected VHS but do collect DVDs. I have one documentary series on VHS and thats it. My DVD collection is rapidly approaching 300. I have no plans on ever buying VHS in the future, and when DVD writers become affordable, I'll be moving the couple tapes I have to DVD.
 

SteveGon

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I used to have a nice-sized library of VHS tapes. But since I got into DVD over two years ago, I haven't purchased a single tape. For the record, I now have over 300 dvds. That's a lot of spending, Warner, and there are a lot of titles in your catalogue that I'd love to have....but only on DVD!
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Megan_A_D

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I'm gonna chime in with my own "me too" sentiment...
I've always dreamed of having my own home movie library and were envious of the people I knew who had a hundred or more of VHS pre-recorded tapes...
But knowing how VHS tapes degraded over time and VCRs go bad... I decided to hold off buying tapes cause on top of the longevity issue... they were bulky & heavy when you had any large numbers of them.
I have about 20 or so video tapes, many of which were acquired as gifts or as "I don't want this anymore, you want it?" hand me downs.
But... when I bought my dvd player at Thanksgiving 99... i proceeded to acquire over 600 dvds... and have plans to buy many more. I'm especially enthusiastic about tv shows on DVD. I really enjoy my X-files, and Buffy discs (I'm so dedicated to the idea, I went out and bought the R2 versions of Buffy when R1 was announced and the postponed in late 00).
My only requirement is that they have to be captioned which is why I quickly got rid of the first 6 volumes of South Park. Well ok half of them actually were captioned but the other 3 weren't which is completely not acceptable esp since all 6 were labeled as being captioned. Plus on the three that were actually captioned... all of the Trey & Matt intro scenes were not captioned which was another slap in the face to the deaf and hard of hearing DVD consumers. Namely I blamed Rhino, but as far as I can tell... these discs were the only Rhino output that were "captioned" and my feeling is that its due to Warner's influence but why the ultra spotty job with it?
I will be buying the Babylon 5 movies that you're about to release, and look forward to seeing the season boxsets in dvd. I DID see those VHS boxsets in the store and discussed them with my partner at the time who was the hardcore B5 fan that got me into the show... and pretty much we were in agreement that our "taped off TV" copies were sufficient to hold us til the DVD versions came out because we strongly believed that they would. We did stand in the store admiring the B5 VHS sets and fingering them longingly because we did/do badly want B5 in decent form but money is finite and I'm voting with my consumer dollar... for DVD only.
I feel the same way about Xena which has been my own passion... I've passed on the VHS sets because DVD is the better medium and I believe in enough in the difference to hold out for DVD even if I have to wait 10 years.
I can understand that its still early enough in the DVD era that VHS is not dead yet but I've heard the sales figures showing that VHS IS dying and DVD is rapidly growing up.
But take a good look at Fox who's been the studio to test the TV on DVD waters in a big way... they're obviously pretty happy with their Xfiles dvd set sales numbers as they keep continuing to release the sets... and they're adding Buffy, Simpsons & MASH to their active TV release schedules in the next few months. Also I'd venture to guess that Sopranos & Sex in the CIty have done well for HBO... cause from my personal experience... I didn't even watch them when they first aired!! I bought the sets based on word of mouth and was thrilled enough to preorder the season 2 sets... when I got the Sex in the City Season 2... I sat down and watched all 9 hours worth back to back in one day! I was that enthusiastic about the show on DVD.
I haven't bought any of the Brit Comedies yet since I've had to cut back on my dvd spending a bit but I've got my eye on the Fawlty Towers set as my first to buy there...
ok i've rambled enough but seriously... Release some of this stuff on dvd (WITH CAPTIONS!!!) and you'll get plenty more of my DVD dollars... heck I'm likely to buy season sets of Friends even though I've never been a big fan and didn't bother watching it in its initial broadcast. I'd rather get Xena first admittedly... or shows like Just Shoot me.
Thanks for the chances you've taken so far on DVD and I'm looking forward to supporting your future forays.
 

Megan_A_D

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since they kinda laid down a gauntlet for us (think Peter Staddon/Fox/OfficeSpace SE)
Let's rise to the occasion... i posted a detailed suggestion for action in the other thread relating specifically to Babylon 5.
 

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