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The TV DVD Double Dip

28 Sep, 2006 By: John Latchem

Since the prospect of putting TV shows on DVD first became a reality, studios have been struggling to figure out just how to do it. Early efforts packaged a few episodes onto a single disc at a time, until someone figured out DVDs were thinner than VHS tapes and could be packaged in relatively thin multidisc sets.

More recently, studios are embracing the idea of the complete-series set, with fancy new packaging that goes beyond slapping a cardboard ribbon around the previously released seasons.

It's basically TV DVD's version of the “double dip,” the time-honored studio tradition of releasing new editions of a film with more or different bonus features, hoping fans will scoop them up, in essence paying two or three times for the same movie.

Complete-series sets would seem to benefit two classes of consumer, whether they buy their own discs or receive them as gifts.

For those fans who aren't the best at taking care of their discs and might find their season sets scratched up beyond recognition after constant viewings, a complete-series box offers a nifty replacement (and a second chance to take proper care of them). Then there's the casual fan who might have resisted picking up the individual sets for whatever reason, and now has a perfect opportunity to own the entire show at once.

What really stings is when studios suddenly drag out the exclusive bonus disc that turns out to be nothing more than a self-serving retrospective. At the very least, these programs could be offered separately for free (or a nominal fee) on DVD or the Internet to fans.

Studio research does support that a significant portion of a show's fan base would be willing to purchase a complete-series set, after already buying the individual seasons, as a collector's item, especially when offered new content or exclusive gifts.

If consumers are obsessive enough to buy the same thing over and over again for minimal new product, it's their prerogative. That's the beauty of capitalism. But that doesn't mean the studios necessarily have to dangle the carrot whenever the chance arises.

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