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TV DVD on the Digital Front Line

24 Oct, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

In preparing for a session I am moderating for our upcoming TV DVD 3 conference, Nov. 7 – 8, (see www.dvdconferences.com), one of the questions I'll pose to panelists is what threats, if any, exist, to hinder to continued fast-track growth of the TV DVD category.

This question arises as Apple's new video iPod in conjunction with iTunes download service, allows consumers to download and watch current season episodes of various ABC shows such as “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” for $1.99 the day after they have aired, as well as to download previous full seasons worth of shows. Naturally consumers can watch these on their iPods, but they can also connect their video iPod to a TV set on watch it at home.

The question also arises as DVD recorder sales continue to double each year, and will come close to equaling about 50 percent of the market by the end of 2008, and as the growth continues for digital video recorders being built into all manner of cable set top boxes and other standalone DVRs, including DVD recorder products.

Now Disney has a lot vested in the TV DVD market, so one has to figure they have done some analysis of what impact, if any, its deal with Apple might have on TV DVD sales of its shows. Perhaps the analysis shows that the availability of the shows for download to storage on handheld media players or home PCs is still a temporary application, for people that missed the previous evening's show and just have to see it immediately, or at least view the show before the next episode. Certainly handheld players capacity is limited, and home digital media storage is also quite limited. Packaged media still serves that need for long-term storage and access.

But there is no doubt that household digital media storage capacity will continue to grow significantly over the next several years, and the interconnectivity of portable devices to home media centers will become even more robust. As digital rights management for downloadable media becomes more flexible for consumers, allowing them to at least copy product to be played on multiple devices already in their home, the TV DVD category may be the canary in the mineshaft, the first to feel the true impact of the digital download era on packaged home entertainment.

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