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THE MORNING BUZZ: Start Buying DVDs and Pretty Soon You're "Six Feet Under"

10 Feb, 2002 By: Thomas K. Arnold

We keep hearing that the home entertainment pie is getting bigger as more and more people add, rather than replace, entertainment viewing options in their home. I've got a story to tell that won't show up on the radar of any market research or polling apparatus, but illustrates the truth in this theory better than anything I've seen, heard or read.

I belong to the local YMCA's Indian Guides program, in which fathers and their sons camp together with other fathers and their sons. Great for bonding -- between father and son and then, after the little tyrants have gone off to a Motrin-induced sleep, among dads.

One of my compadres is a doctor, a general practitioner. He belongs to a medical group and is comfortable but not wealthy the way some specialists are.

Dr. Mark last summer was caught up in the media craze about DVD and bought a player for just over $200. One of the first discs he bought was the boxed set of "The Sopranos," a program he had heard much about but had never seen because he didn't subscribe to HBO.

He was immediately smitten, finished Season One and in November bought Season Two the day it came out. Inside one of the boxed set was a subscription coupon for HBO. He filled it out and sent it in, primarily because he wanted to watch Season Three, which was already under way.

He figured he'd save a little money watching movies on HBO instead of renting DVDs, but the opposite happened. A medical man's schedule doesn't really fit in with the rigors of cable; he'd catch the beginning of a movie here, the tail end there and end up renting it to see what he'd missed. End result: He went from renting three or four movies a month to five or six-not a big jump, but definitely an increase.

Meanwhile, while buying some diet bars at Wal-Mart, he happened by one of the discount chain's many recently erected DVD bargain bins. He bought Artisan's Young Guns for $7.44 and, after scanning the racks of bargain-priced catalog titles from Warner, MGM and Columbia TriStar, he vowed to return soon when he had more time. He did. He bought. He's still buying-his DVD collection now stands at roughly two dozen titles, all but one or two of them purchased for less than $15 at Wal-Mart. Before he got his DVD player, Dr. Mark confesses, he didn't buy any movies for himself-just for his kids.

Does he have time for HBO? Not much, but he's not about to cancel his subscription. "The Sopranos" is still on the air and he's also gotten hooked on another HBO series, "Six Feet Under," that he's talking up to all his friends.

Dr. Mark can't wait for "Six Feet Under" to start coming out on DVD (there's already a hip remix of the theme song on radio) so he can catch up on all the shows he's missed. In the meantime, at least one other Indian Guides dad, after hearing Dr. Mark's enthusiasm about the black comedy, says he's going to subscribe to HBO.

He's already got a subscription blank. It came with his "Sopranos" DVD boxed set.

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