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How Valuable Is a Value DVD?

14 Mar, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

In one of our recent online polls, responding retailers pegged DVD devaluation as the issue most threatening to their business, outranking such hot-button topics as street-date violations and elimination of late fees.

It seems budget DVDs are making an impact on retailers' and consumers' outlook. When consumers can get a dollar DVD at Wal-Mart, renting a title for $3-$4 with a possible late fee thrown in looks like a really bad deal. And industry pundits have long argued that low-priced DVDs hurt consumers' perception of the value of all DVDs.

But price is always relative to content. If it's a film you don't want to see, why spend even a penny on it. A recent “South Park” television episode took on the DVD value proposition at a fictional retailer strangely similar to the No. 1 video revenue generator. The “South Park” characters peruse the great deals at the new discounter in town and notice a two-pack of a film at a value price. One character brings up the fact that you don't really need two copies of the same film, you only need one. “But it's such a great deal,” responds his friend. The critic also notes that the film in question wasn't all that good to begin with, so why buy it at all — even if it's a great deal?

Certainly, value DVDs seems to be selling well. They fill a niche at the discounters. But you're not going to find The Incredibles, for instance, on the dollar DVD shelf anytime soon. DVD devaluation is a fact of life these days, but often that low price is tied to content that's worth less to the consumer.

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