Are New Release DVDs Unseen Trees in Forest?


Meaning if they go away in their current form, will anyone care at all? As anyone who's tried to get a new release on DVD from Netflix can tell you, they're, for the most part, hardly a new release by the time you get them in the mail.

With the vast majority of the big studios, Netflix has agreed to delay new release rentals by 28 days, a move designed to drum up DVD sales while they can still make them. Yes, we can all see the iTunes model coming to motion pictures, even the folks who thought making The Zookeeper was a good idea.

Anyway, Warner Brothers is, according to Wired, one of the first companies to try convincing Netflix, Blockbuster and other big renters like Redbox to extend that 28-day window.

Warner Brothers wants the 28 day window between sales and rentals of new DVDs and Blu-ray discs it’s negotiated with Netflix and Redbox to be even longer — and it wants big retail chains like Blockbuster to submit to the window, too.

Blockbuster told Warner Brothers “No” and is buying WB DVDs on the open market instead. “They felt it was important to continue to offer day and date rental so rather than work with us they went around us,” Warner Bros Home Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara told the Financial Times.

So I guess we won’t be seeing WB movies or TV shows on that new Blockbuster-DISH streaming network any time soon.

Withholding streaming rights is really the only stick the movie studios have in this fight to prop up physical media. As far as carrots, they’re mostly for customers, and they’re mostly digital.

The bold emphasis there is mine, and I think it's really the most critical thing here. This is truly clinging to the vestiges of what you've got, with not much of respect paid toward what's coming, and isn't that a cardinal sin with technology? There's no forward thinking here from Warner Brothers or, presumably, the other studios that will soon follow suit with similar request.

On the one hand, I get it. The DVD sales business is about to go the way of the CD sales business if it hasn't begun to already. On the other hand, isn't this just going to push more people towards digital options -- which are available on release day already -- even people who might have otherwise eschewed or ignored those options?

Maybe I'm not the prototypical example, being a movie buff and all, but I just dumped the DVD-by-mail portion of my Netflix service. A big justification behind it was my concurrent decision to subscribe to Amazon Prime, which also includes the option to rent new releases (in HD!) directly from Amazon and stream them over my Roku player. I'm so pleased with the switch I'm wondering why I didn't make it earlier. For the less technically inclined, there are On Demand options through most cable providers that essentially give you the same thing.

The studios and rental services have pushed and prodded me just enough that, in spite of my general laziness and reluctance to change, I've now found options I actually prefer to what I had before -- and they aren't the ones I'm supposed to be guided to, in fact, I'm probably less inclined to buy a new release DVD than I've ever been. That's why I can't see the push for an extended new release embargo ending well.