Wednesday, December 31, 2008
By Thomas K. Arnold | Posted: December 29, 2008
The year is ending with more uncertainty about our economic future than I ever imagined. And I’m not just talking home entertainment, but everything.
If there’s anything positive to keep us in a celebratory mood when the new year dawns, if there’s any reason to keep the champagne flowing instead of chugging cheap beer, it’s that home entertainment has a historic resilience to economic hard times. I firmly believe any further hits we take won’t be nearly as precipitous as those taken by other industries.
Consider the bargain of buying a DVD or even a Blu-ray Disc. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I saw decent DVDs at Wal-Mart selling for two bucks, and Blu-ray Disc prices have been cascading downward to the point where consumers can now find a tidy selection of good titles on sale for as little as $15. That sure beats the price of a night out on the town, or even a night at the movies, particularly if you happen to have bought a huge new plasma TV just before the economy crashed.
Renting a movie is even cheaper, and thanks to Netflix and those omnipresent kiosks, it’s more convenient than ever. Handing out campaign fliers for my Carlsbad City Council run in October, I spend several Saturdays outside an Albertsons supermarket. The movie kiosk was in constant use and at one point even had a line several people deep.
Home entertainment’s economic advantage, if you will, is that you get a lot of value for a relatively minor amount of money, and honestly I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t appreciate a bargain these days. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is cutting back. I’ve been buying soup, cheese and tortillas and making my own lunch at work instead of stepping out every day. I’ve been handing out DVDs I get for free as Christmas gifts, and instead of joining a gym, I merely added an extra mile to my daily walk and joined a free aerobics class at the office taught by a co-worker.
So as we close the books on 2008, let’s all keep our collective chins up. Despite the much-publicized travails of home entertainment, from slipping DVD sales and a slower-than-expected uptake for Blu-ray Discs to misguided analysts who would have us believe the whole world is moving to digital downloading, we’re still in a pretty good place.