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What Do Consumers Want on Their DVDs?

22 Aug, 2002 By: Judith McCourt

Length of DVD player ownership and frequency of disc purchase drive consumer usage of supplemental features, while the size of the primary DVD viewing screen influences consumers' preference for letterbox versus full-screen format.

These are just two findings about DVD software preferences in a recent exclusive study of 600 DVD households conducted by Video Store Magazine.

The study also shows that buyers as well as renters are actively exploring and using supplemental materials from deleted scenes to Web links.

DVD buyers are more likely than renters to use supplemental DVD features with more than two-thirds -- 67 percent -- saying they access supplemental disc materials.

Although renters' time for exploring the bells and whistles DVDs offer is curtailed by having to return the disc, 61 percent of DVD-renting households say they take the time to take a look at supplemental materials. Households with a higher frequency of disc purchase are more likely to use supplemental features when they rent.

The more frequently consumers buys discs, the more likely they are to use the added features. More than 70 percent of consumers who buy at least one disc a month delve into the extras, with the number dropping to 58 percent for those who purchase DVDs only twice a year or less.

How long consumers have owned a DVD player also appears to influence special feature use, suggesting that once consumers are familiar with the player and the discs, they are more likely to use supplemental materials. Six months appears to be a turning point for discovering all that DVD has to offer. Special feature usage for homes that have had the players less than three months stands at 54 percent. Sixty percent of households that have owned players for six months or less say they use special features, and the number jumps to 71 percent in households that have had players for more than six months.

Deleted scenes top the list as the most-sought-after feature for DVD disc buyers. More than three-quarters of DVD aficionados cite this feature as at least somewhat important when they are considering whether they will purchase a title. This feature has universal appeal across all demographic groups.

Also scoring high with buyers as an important purchase factor is the availability of making-of and behind-the-scenes information, with 73 percent of DVD buyers saying they consider this feature.

Web links trail, but their popularity increases with Internet usage. Thirty-nine percent of DVD owners who use the Internet more than 13 hours a week say they consider Web links an important extra, while only 24 percent of DVD households that use the Internet less than 13 hours a week cite the feature as an important purchase consideration.

Superior picture quality is most frequently cited by consumers as what they like most about DVDs, with 59 percent of DVD households ranking it No. 1. Disc damage is what consumers like least about the format, with 28 percent citing it as a concern.

The full-screen/letterbox debate falls into almost even thirds, with those who have no preference leading at 37 percent and letterbox trailing with a 30 percent stated preference. The size of the primary viewing screen appears to influence what consumers prefer. The early adopters that have owned a DVD player for two or more years are most likely to prefer letterbox format (36 percent). They also are most likely to have a large-screen viewing option, with 37 percent saying their screen size is at least 36 inches; only 17 percent have a screen of less than 27 inches. The newest wave of owners, those who have acquired a player in the last three months, prefer full-screen viewing (42 percent). Just 23 percent of this group has a screen that is more than 36 inches, while 26 percent say their TV is less than 27 inches.

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