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DVD Deployment

14 Sep, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

DVD has been a raging success since its inception. It virtually created street date sellthrough and the used movie trade, and it revitalized rental for the smart dealers. Now sales are sliding and a lot of folks are asking why.

It's veering off on a tangent just a bit, but the other night I got to thinking, there is another hit — maybe just a teeny one, but who really knows? — awaiting the industry.

The end of the Iraq war, if we ever see it.

The home shelf space crunch has hit a lot of people, and with DVD prices so low (especially for those willing to wait for the PVT) it's not hard to buy a disc, watch it and then pass it along.

I know a few folks who collected boxes of DVDs for troops around the holidays last year and I know of several year-round local efforts to gather discs that U.S. residents have watched to send to hometown troops overseas.

I've exchanged emails with a few troops myself. One young lady told me DVDs are about the only thing the rank-and-file have to do after dark and they are grateful for any new fare, especially TV boxed sets with hours of programming, that they can get.

“It is such a blessing because at night there is not much to do in the tents except watch movies,” she wrote. The soldiers feel it as a little taste of home. Often they are in places where there's a language and culture barrier. Even if things are peaceful during the days (which they were not always for Private Beck when she wrote that), it's comforting to watch familiar drama or humor in your own language.

It's really hard to tell how much of an effect that is having on the market. If anything it's a plus for the industry; in some cases it's a reason to buy two copies of the same movie or show, in others it clears out that home shelf and keeps the nook open for more discs, many of which will also be passed on.

It's impossible to tell how many DVDs have been shipped to Iraq or other hostile areas. I have two Navy cousins and I'm pretty sure DVDs are a big deal on deployed ships, whether or not they are in hostile waters.

It's good that people support the troops, even if they don't support the war. I'm not sure how much those sales mean to the industry, but I'm pretty sure it's an amount we would trade to have the war over and our friends and relatives home safe.

At least, I would.

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