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Expanding Retail Models in the Digital Era

28 Nov, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

Not too long ago I sat for the better part of a day in a conference room listening to a parade of executives from the cable, Internet, studio and hardware/software industries talk about the future of digital delivery of entertainment.

The panel discussions and presentations spanned the gamut of issues still facing the enterprise of sending movies and other entertainment through wires or wireless into homes. Issues such as digital rights management and piracy protection; attracting content providers; making digital content access more simple for consumers; the benefits of cable versus Internet versus satellite versus phone company…and anyone else one could think might eventually deliver content into the home; windows; business models; and yes, even the future of packaged entertainment, to name a few.

I came away with pretty much the same feelings I had going into the gathering about digital delivery, many of them echoed by speakers that day. That is, there will be no one clear winner when it comes to which pipeline into the home will carry the majority of digital home entertainment; no one clear business model in terms of how you will access or pay for that content; no one clear provider of that content.

There will be a plethora of ways to have digital content in your home, including packaged media from your local specialty or mass merchant retailer. You may store it on a PC or in a set top box. You may buy your entertainment a la carte or by a subscription from your cable provider, over the Internet or from your phone company. You may view it on your TV, your PC or some handheld device while on the move.

In short, there will be as many ways to get your entertainment as you and your fellow consumers demand in the future. Already you are seeing this begin to evolve and the evolution will continue as both brick and mortar and pure play digital retailers continue to fashion products and services that meet specific content and delivery needs of an ever more evolved consumer of digital entertainment.

This is why Video Store Magazine is changing its name to Home Media Retailing next year. We recognize how digital home entertainment retailing has begun to change and become a mixed bag of not only movies, music and games, but the possibility of delivering that product over a variety of platforms. That both digital pure play and brick and mortar retailers have a role to play. There will be no one winner takes all in this new era, at least not for the next decade or more. Consumers will want to enjoy their entertainment in different formats at different times in different locations and will be willing to manage that content on any number of platforms and pay a vareity of different price points for it. And the retailing models to serve that demand are only going to multiply.

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