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Paramount Mining the TV Vaults on Disc

6 Feb, 2003 By: Joan Villa

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- The Complete First Season is the latest acclaimed series to jump from the TV set to the DVD boxed set.

Due March 25 (prebook Feb. 11) from Paramount Home Entertainment, “CSI” is CBS' top-rated drama, making it worthy of the full-series treatment, said SVP of marketing Michael Arkin.

The six-disc set, wrapped with a distinctive yellow “police line, don't cross” belly band, will feature all 23 episodes plus character profiles, The Who's “Who Are You?” music video and a featurette “CSI: People Lie … But the Evidence Never Does.” Paramount has not assigned the set a price, but anticipates retailers will sell it for about $70.

With one of the largest TV libraries in Hollywood, Paramount was one of the early pioneers of TV on video, succeeding in selling “Star Trek” on VHS with only one or two episodes per tape. While an entire season on VHS would require massive shelf space spanning some 17 cassettes, DVD's success is due in part to its compact size, Arkin said.

Paramount will bow an MTV “Real World” boxed set and will soon announce season sets of “Cheers” and “Frasier.” “The product we're putting out runs the gamut,” Arkin said.

For the release of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” this month, Paramount will follow the same innovative release strategy employed last year with the entire seven-year run of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which compressed full-season sets into a rapid-fire schedule from March to December. “Deep Space Nine's” yearlong campaign will launch with Season One on Feb. 25, and a new season will follow every two months.

Although there was a risk of oversaturating the market, “Next Generation” fans stepped up to support the series, Arkin said. “We believed once we whetted their appetite we would get them in the mode of buying, essentially asking them to spend over $700 at retail in the course of one year, with one series, and they did.”

On VHS, TV product often got no respect from consumers and retailers who balked at the idea of purchasing shows they could watch free on TV. But the idea of TV on DVD has caught on in a way no one could have imagined.

Take “I Love Lucy,” which Paramount is also releasing in collectible DVD sets April 1 for $14.99 each. Volumes five and six in season one each contain four episodes, with the show's original opening from 1952 as well as special footage. But Paramount is considering that “quintessential” sitcom a perfect candidate for a complete season boxed set, Arkin said. “If you're a fan of a series and a true enthusiast, you want to have completion, you want the whole story,” he said.

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