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TK's MORNING BUZZ: DVD's Special Features Are Taking Home Video Marketers Out of the 'Used Movie' Business

13 Nov, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Sitting through a demonstration of the new X-Men DVD on the Fox studio lot last Friday, I was amazed at how studio executives were talking up the disc's special features. It was the focus of their talk, and clearly their pride and joy. The audience consisted mostly of DVD Web chatters like the Home Theater Forum, whose members Fox execs routinely solicit for advice on what "value-added features" (that's official studio jargon!) to put on their discs.

The Fox show, highlighted by appearances by director Bryan Singer and X-Men creator Stan Lee, came less than a month after Disney held a similar shindig to show off its splashy three-disc Ultimate Toy Box, in which one of the three discs contains nothing but extra stuff.

All of this underscores the growing contention that DVD is taking home video marketers out of the "used movie" business and presenting them with a new and unique product in which the actual movie is just one of myriad facets.

Indeed, special features, considered a nice novelty when DVD was launched in March 1997, has emerged as a driving force, every bit as important as the better sound and picture quality.

It's the DVD sellers who benefit the most; video marketers concede the special features are aimed at buyers and collectors, not renters or casual watchers.

And yet the rental market benefits as well. A DVD loaded with special features is the ultimate hedge against pay-per-view and even video-on-demand.

And one high-ranking studio executive told me that as the extra stuff--oh, sorry, I mean, "value-added" features--created for DVD continues to increase in quality, quantity and imagination, video marketers will start including some of those elements on the VHS versions, to give the lowly old VCR user a taste of this hot new trend in home entertainment programming.

I think we should all thank our lucky stars for the growing prominence of special features. In this arena, at least, electronic delivery can't even begin to compete with packaged home entertainment.

And it doesn't take an Einstein (nothing personal, Rose!) to conclude that our industry can use any hedge against the competition it can get.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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