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The More Things Change …

28 Sep, 2009 By: Stephanie Prange

I’ve been with this magazine for more than 15 years and I often marvel at the way many things have changed — and even more at the way they haven’t.

My first week at what was then Video Store Magazine in late 1993, news of a TeleCommunications Inc.-Bell Atlantic merger designed to deliver VOD rocked the business. At the time, Bell Atlantic chairman and CEO Raymond Smith declared video stores “no longer viable.” It’s a wonder I didn’t pack up my marbles and leave.

But video stores came back with a vengeance after that, only to fall out of favor once again when the Internet dazzled Wall Street during the dot-com boom in the late 1990s.

Yet in the first part of this decade, the industry would emerge victorious during the salad days of DVD — when it seemed consumers had a neverending appetite for collecting movies and TV shows on disc. Suddenly, DVD was the ultimate video-on-demand. For less than $20, you could own almost any movie or TV series.

Now I’m experiencing déjà vu as the packaged-media industry goes through yet another format change, from DVD to high-definition Blu-ray Disc, and the Internet-delivery purveyors are again nipping at the industry’s heels. Netflix and Blockbuster are both pursuing digital options. Services with such nonsensical, but melodious, names as FiOS, Hulu, Vudu and iTunes are competing as never before with packaged-media delivery of content.

But there’s also the success of old ideas such as kiosk rentals that give me pause in declaring an end to packaged media. Peruse our 30th anniversary section and you’ll see it was tried once before — with VHS. Now kiosks — not digital delivery — are the talk of the industry.
The more things change…

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