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How to Remake the Home Entertainment Industry

25 Oct, 2011 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Herman Cain may have his 9-9-9 plan to remake the tax system, but the Hermanator’s plan is nothing compared to my plan to remake the home entertainment business.

The big problem, these days, is that studios aren’t making enough money because too many people are renting discs from Netflix and Redbox, and the return to studios from rental isn’t nearly what it is from sellthrough.

So here’s my three-part remedy:

Consumer electronics manufacturers immediately stop making DVD players and only manufacture Blu-ray Disc players. The margins are better, and if they tout the fact that these players not only play high-definition discs but also are backwards-compatible – and make standard DVDs look better – I think they’ll do all right. As any first-year marketing student knows, consumers need to be educated, and if we’re concerned that too many people are still living in DVD land, then maybe a forceful eviction is what’s needed.

At the same time, computer manufacturers need to stop putting DVD drives in new computers and also adopt an all-Blu-ray Disc approach. Again, they can tout the backwards compatability angle, as well as the fact that Blu-ray Disc offers far greater storage capacity – which in this era of increasingly large photo and video files should be a great selling point.

The third thing that needs to happen is for studios to release movies on Blu-ray Disc a month before they release them on standard DVD. They can charge full price for the Blu-ray Disc, and then a month later offer bare-bones single DVDs for maybe $5 a pop. The idea here is that consumers who don’t want to wait, as well as movie collectors, will rush out and buy the new release on Blu-ray Disc, while those who are less enthusiastic won’t mind waiting a month to buy it for $5 a DVD.

This second category of consumer is the rental crowd, and they already are accustomed to waiting a month to get their movies from Netflix or Redbox – which they don’t mind doing, because it’s only costing them a few dollars.

By imposing a similar window on DVD and charging just a little more than the average rental fee, I believe many of these consumers will migrate back to the purchasing habit, particularly since buying a movie at places like Wal-Mart and Target is so convenient.

It’s a way for studios to take back the rental business, once and for all, and not have to share with anyone. Netflix and Redbox can still rent movies, but under this scenario the playing field between sellthrough and rental is leveled.

As for physical video rental stores, they can do it all: They can sell new Blu-ray Disc releases, rent them, and then after a month do the same with standard DVD. I believe video stores will regain at least some of the market share they’ve lost over the years, and at the same time get a crack at the lucrative sellthrough business that for the most part has eluded them.

What do you think?

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About the Author: Thomas K. Arnold

Thomas K. Arnold

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