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Digital Convenience Tipping the Scales

5 Aug, 2015 By: Thomas K. Arnold

There’s encouraging news for home entertainment in the mid-year numbers report issued July 31 by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, but I fear that once again people are going to overlook it and misinterpret the report in a negative way.

The big news, to me, is that in the second quarter of this year consumers spent more money on digital delivery options than on physical media.

I know, I know — the bulk of that increase went to Netflix and subscription streaming, at the expense of Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

But that’s really not the way I see it — I believe this little statistic indicates not only that consumers are comfortable getting their movies and TV shows over the Internet, but it also suggests that electronic sellthrough (or Digital HD — call it what you will) has a real chance of taking off.

You see, the more people tune in to Netflix, the sooner they’ll catch on that there’s a lot of good new stuff they simply can’t access. I am operating under the assumption, of course, that the average American’s viewing diet consists of movies, and not just the TV series Netflix excels at. And if you’re a movie fan, Netflix simply doesn’t cut it. I can tell you from personal experience that in every home there will come a point when people grow tired of the studio castoffs, direct-to-video bombs and 9-year-old theatricals that make up the bulk of Netflix’s movie programming and clamor for something new, something fresh, something hot.

My 17-year-old, Conner, after consuming dozens of DTV horror sequels and Lifetime movies with Dear Old Dad, reached that point a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to see Guardians of the Galaxy — and because he’s been programmed to watch electronically he didn’t bother to visit our disc room, home to more than 2,000 Blu-ray Disc and DVD movies and TV shows I can’t possibly live without. No, he switched over to Amazon Prime and bought the film (on the family credit card, of course) for $19.99.

I hear lots of talk on the studio side about how to make digital movie purchases more attractive. Early windowing — issuing a film on EST two or three weeks before any other platform, including disc — is certainly a good incentive. So is pushing down the price and adding the extras we’ve grown accustomed to through discs.

But the real key to EST’s success, I believe, is patience — Netflix has done a great job indoctrinating people to watch movies and TV shows OTT, and it’s only a matter of time before the novelty wears off and people want to watch something new and exciting again. And, just like Conner, they’re finding out it’s quite easy to do — as long as you’re willing to pay for it.

And my hunch is, they are.

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