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How to End It

26 Jan, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The good thing about TV DVD is, there are generally plenty of seasons to keep a good franchise going for several years.

The bad thing is that even the strongest-selling series runs out of seasons.

HBO Video's “Sex and the City” went out with a bang. DVD marketers split the sixth and final season into two DVD releases, parts one and two, to prolong its retail life. Then, when the end came, they assembled all six seasons in a $300 “collector's gift set” in a bound hardcover book.

“Friends” had a similar DVD run. The same day the 10th and final season hit DVD, Warner Home Video put together an elaborate collector's edition packaged in an elegant wooden box with a glass door. Friends: The One With All 10 Seasons also came with a hefty $300 price tag.

Now “Dawson's Creek” is nearing the end of its DVD life cycle. The sixth and final season is coming April 4 (prebook March 2). But don't expect an elaborate complete-series gift set. That's not Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's style, said Marc Rashba, VP of catalog and television marketing.

“You don't want to do something that might alienate the people who were with you all the way by coming out with a gift set that has all these extras that weren't available before, forcing them into a purchase of multiple hundreds of dollars,” Rashba said.

That's why, in lieu of a complete-series set, Sony is packaging Dawson's Creek: The Complete Sixth Season (four-DVD set $49.95) with an exclusive scrapbook filled with trivia and photos. The studio employed a similar strategy when “Sanford and Son” finished its DVD run after six season sets, Rashba said.

“We created this commemorative booklet that included all kinds of unique photos and stories, sort of as a thank-you to fans who had been buying the seasons along the way,” Rashba said.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment went the “big bang” all-season collection route with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and plans on an encore when “M*A*S*H” concludes its 11-season run (season 10 is due in May).

But for “The X-Files,” the first TV series to be released in complete-season sets, the studio took a different approach: After all was said and done, Fox began repackaging episodes along story arc lines as “The X-Files Mythology.”

“It's classic catalog marketing,” said Fox SVP of marketing communications Steve Feldstein. “You never really run out of anything.”

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