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DVD Resilient in Tough Times

By Thomas K. Arnold | Posted: October 07, 2008

Could the economy get any worse? After a summer of sky-high gasoline prices and a nationwide mortgage meltdown, we are experiencing an economic crisis the likes of which haven’t been seen since the days leading up to the Great Depression. Bank failures, crashing stock prices — it appears to be 1929 all over again, and the entire nation is clearly, and justifiably, on edge.

Entertainment has traditionally been resilient in tough economic times, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise this time around. Home entertainment, in particular, should ride out the current economic storm remarkably well, with renting or even buying a DVD a most affordable alternative to a night out on the town — or a night at the movies.

The only variable this time around is that we are in the midst of a format transition, and tough economic times might make switching from standard DVD to Blu-ray Disc something of a hard sell, since transitioning consumers have to buy not just a new player, but also a new TV to fully enjoy the high-def wonders of the Blu tide.

But if budget-conscious consumers are wary about making the switch to Blu-ray, we still have a healthy DVD business to fall back on, and it is my belief that any DVD sales slowdown we might have been experiencing these last few years will flatten out and possibly even reverse itself in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

There’s a ton of great product in the pipeline, and while the studios are aggressively pushing Blu-ray Disc, they certainly are not dropping the ball on DVD. The usual crop of high-profile theatricals coming to disc in the fourth quarter is complemented by a dazzling array of rich catalog product, movie collections and TV DVD compilations, and the penny-watching public is sure to take note, thanks to well-orchestrated marketing and advertising campaigns already in the works.

Each year the fourth quarter is make-it-or-break-it time for studios looking to finish the year in the black. And this year we will likely see the Hollywood number crunchers focus not just on tentpole year-end theatrical releases, but also on the studios’ home entertainment divisions.

We may not be in the driver’s seat, but we’re certainly in the hot seat. Here’s hoping no one will get burned.

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