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Storage, Not VOD, Is DVD's Biggest Challenge

27 Nov, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

A friend of mine has the solution to his bulging DVD collection: He’s buying a massive new computer with a hard drive of more than 200 gigabytes so he can put all his movies on his computer and then either sell his used discs or chuck them.

Granted, he has nowhere near the library that many of us have—I think I’m over 2,000 now, at last count—but it’s certainly an intriguing concept that bridges the gap between packaged media and electronic delivery.

The fact of the matter is, DVDs are so cheap—you can choose from a vast selection of quality, major-studio catalog titles for as little as $5 at virtually every big chain retailer—that I’m convinced that when true video-on-demand finally does come around, it won’t get nearly as many bites as experts predict simply because of the price.

Charge me $4.99, $3.99 or even $2.99 to watch a movie once and I’ll tell you why bother, when I can probably pick up that same movie—or one just as compelling—for a couple of dollars more. In the old VHS days, the biggest argument in favor of VOD was that people hate making return trips to video stores, hence the periodic appearance of disposal or limited-play software that you buy cheap and then toss when you’re done.

But DVDs have become so cheap that a lot of people I know who used to rent now choose to buy—and the significant thing here is that they buy not to collect, but simply to watch. If they buy a disc for $5, who cares if they chuck it, it’s still cheaper than renting a video and taking the time, and the gas, to bring it back. Even hot new releases are now routinely on sale for less than $15 and, again, the incentive to buy is furthered by the fact that everyone wants to see this hot new release so why not pass it around to your friends instead of making them go out and rent it?

In any event, people are buying DVDs like crazy, and the biggest obstacle to the format’s continued soaring growth is not the hassle of taking something back to a rental store, but of finding a place to sock it away in your home. The average home movie library is mushrooming, but ultimately there will come a day when consumers simply run out of room and say, “No more” (something my wife first said back in the fall of 1999, if my memory serves me correctly).

This concept of buying, downloading and then either reselling or chucking is quite interesting because it lets consumers override that one obstacle and continue happily buying away.

Storage problem solved, and you’ve got, well, video on demand, right there in your own home.

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