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Digital Copy Gives Instant Gratification

19 Feb, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The swift move among studios to include a digital copy of the film with virtually every DVD or Blu-ray Disc they release, a practice most recently given a vote of confidence by none other than Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, is certainly a smart one.

As I’ve noted before, it gives packaged media a chance to beat digital download services at their own game. All of a sudden that DVD or Blu-ray Disc becomes a one-stop purchase for consumers who want something they can watch both on their expensive home theater systems and on their iPods. It’s no longer an either-or proposition; consumers can get both in the same package, at the same place, at the same time — and for the same price.

I also believe the digital copy juggernaut is accomplishing a much loftier goal: it’s preventing young people from migrating fully to the Web for their entertainment needs. The teen who ordinarily would download a video onto his iPod, because watching movies on iPods is the cool thing to do, now can grab the digital copy from his dad’s Blu-ray Disc. It’s cheaper, easier and more convenient, even than iTunes, and the good news for our business is that 100% of the revenue is generated from the disc sale.

In our house, digital copy is fast catching on. The boys and I watched The Dark Knight on Blu-ray Disc. Since it was a school night, I turned the movie off at 9 p.m. and sent them off to bed, with the promise that we would resume watching it the next night. Of course I was lying: I gave them about 15 minutes to doze off and then I watched the rest of the film by myself, with the sound turned down.

When I went up to bed, I checked on them. No one was asleep: They had finished watching The Dark Knight on Justin’s iPod, and now were watching some “SpongeBob” cartoon.

What’s a dad supposed to do?

My hunch is that digital copy, as Iger maintains it should, will soon become ubiquitous. According to studio sources, the use rate of digital copies ranges from 7% to 10%. That’s sure to grow, at least until downloading high-quality movies becomes quick and easy.

Our society has long had a thing for instant gratification. We’re suckers for a quickie — and at least for now, discs satisfy that demand.

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