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DVD: Size Matters

17 May, 2004 By: Stephanie Prange

While many have talked about the better picture and audio quality of the DVD and its neat package, not many have stopped to think how much the smaller size of the DVD has meant to the suppliers who ship it.

Without the small DVD, Netflix would likely not exist. Amazon is now offering DVDs at lower prices than VHS cassettes. Why? I'd bet they'd rather ship the smaller DVD.

This shipping advantage trickles down to secondary suppliers as well. The advent of the sellthrough business hasn't crimped their style. Why? Even though they have to ship more copies into the sellthrough arena than they did to rental dealers during the VHS days, those copies are both cheaper to make and cheaper to ship. The DVD's economy of scale has allowed strapped secondary suppliers to keep up with changes in the market.

Many collectors I know are downsizing by chucking the DVD cases altogether and saving them in pocketed albums. That's yet another space-saving advantage of the DVD. There's no way to similarly compress a cassette.

A Warner executive once told me that he attended a meeting at which then-Warner Home Video president and future father of DVD Warren Lieberfarb said he needed a video disc the size of a CD. Laserdiscs just didn't cut it. It's amazing to think now how visionary that moment was. If it were all about picture and sound, laserdiscs wouldn't have ended up on the scrap heap of obsolete technologies.

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