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Home Video Pioneer Ron Eisenberg Passes Away

11 Nov, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ron Eisenberg

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos remembers a mentor

Ron Eisenberg, an early advocate of VHS movie rentals, reportedly died Oct. 31 at his home in Houston at the age of 73.

Eisenberg was founder of East Texas Distribution, which in 1994 commanded 20% of the home video market distributing movies to supermarkets and video stores, among other retail outlets.

In the process, Eisenberg was named Billboard’s Video Person of the Year in 1994. ETD shuttered operations in 2001 — a time when sellthrough of DVD movies and TV shows had eclipsed the rental market, the latter controlled by major chains (and proprietary wholesale channels) such as Blockbuster, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video, among others.

Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos cut his teeth in home entertainment working for Eisenberg in the 1990s. In a column for Billboard, Sarandos remembered Eisenberg for his work ethic and willingness to think and operate outside the box.

More importantly, Sarandos admitted that during the intervening years helping Netflix become a global phenomenon, he had not properly thanked Eisenberg personally for his tutelage.

“My ETD days are more than 15 years behind me, but Ron's character, vision and humor are a part of everything I do today,” Sarandos wrote.

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