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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Perhaps as the DVD-Installed Base Grows and DVD Libraries Swell, Consumers Will Be More Amenable to Single-Disc DVDs

11 Jul, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

One of the things I like best about DVDs is they take up less room than VHScassettes. I'm a pack rat, and my home is filled with vinyl record albums (800+), books (500+), even eight-track tapes (50, unless my wife threw some more into the trash last night while I was putting the kids to bed).

One of my fondest dreams is getting rid of the various multicassette boxed sets I have and replacing them with single DVDs. Those dreams were born with Artisan's release a few years back of the miniseries The Stand on a lone DVD-18, with more than six hours of programming. I just couldn't wait for A&E to get into the game and reissue some of its classic documentary sets onsingle DVDs, as it has already done with Titanic, a 192-minute documentary also available in a four-cassette boxed set.

But now I'm hearing that suppliers are shying away from cramming hours ofprogramming onto a single disc, because it's hard to justify the higher price tag to consumers. Never mind how many hours of entertainment they're getting; to Joe Consumer, a single DVD is a single DVD, and should be priced accordingly, no matter how much stuff is on it.

In this week's Video Store Magazine, Artisan Home Entertainment presidentSteve Beeks says the independent supplier is giving up DVD-18s in favor ofreleasing its special editions on double-disc sets. Among the reasons, according to Beeks, is consumers' perception "that double-disc sets give them more for their money."

No sooner had that article hit than we received a letter from Winstar's Dan Gurlitz, saying his company had reached the same decision. "People, ingeneral, perceive size as value," Gurlitz wrote. "I guess for now biggerremains better and more is still more."

Urgh!!! And here I thought DVD was the answer to my space-crunch problems, asuitable antidote to the stacks of VHS screeners crowding even the shelves inmy laundry room!

My anger is compounded by a press release on a new digital video compressionengine that lets manufacturers put up to five full-length feature films on asingle DVD. Zeros and Ones Inc., a transmedia holding company headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., believes "the market for digital video compressionis huge" and "intends to commercialize and license" its new process.

I wish them all the luck in the world. I already think the folks at Fox are heroes for releasing double features on one DVD, such as the old and new The Fly combos. And I'm anxious for this trend to continue, purely for selfish reasons. We all know the technology exists; now, the trick is get the industry -- and consumers -- to use it.

Oh, well. Perhaps as the DVD-installed base gets bigger and the average DVD library swells, consumers will be more amenable to single discs with lots and lots of programming.

Until then, I guess the best I can hope for is swapping out my VHS boxed sets for DVD boxed sets. Even one-for-one, they take up less room. And I guess a little space saved is better than none at all.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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