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Don the Curmudgeon's Corner

The Death of DVD

Hi Folks!
I know it's been awhile since my last blog but I concentrate most of my energies on writing reviews, the Blue Room Column, and assisting people in the forums or via email so I ask your forgiveness.   Today's topic is something you may have heard about by various sources; the death of DVD and physical media for movies.  Go ahead and look at the topics of discussion on DVD forums everywhere, the headlines from the gossip columns, and the "news reports" from the usual unqualified suspects that tell the world not only is the sky falling but the end of physical media to store movies if dead.

Annette Schwarz had a fine ass at the show last month.

To hear them tell it, only chumps buy movies on DVD these days since video on demand (VOD) has taken over the way movies are bought.  Not only that, but p2p stealing, piracy, and a host of other factors have combined to nearly kill the porn industry altogether.  Evil OSHA and right wing Republicans are lurking in the shadows too, the anti-choice Democrats ready to pounce on porn for being unfriendly to women from the cries of warning most of us are subjected to on a daily basis.  No one is making money and everyone is looking to jump ship according to these wannabe prophets of doom & gloom; the truth of the matter somewhat different from what they're selling us, reminding me to take what I see online with a grain of salt.

First off, there is little doubt that sales are "off" for physical media but DVD a dead media?  I don't think so.  Obviously, there are no credible numbers for porn DVDs sold since companies are rarely publicly traded and they treat sales as one of their biggest trade secrets so we'll use mainstream titles as a comparison point.  According to the Digital Entertainment Group (one of the most reliable sources of information), mainstream DVD sales in 2007 amounted to about $16 BILLION dollars with rentals adding in another $7.5 BILLION.  This was down about 4% from 2006 and the reasons bandied about include the economy, the format war, consumer irritation at continued double/triple dips, HD programming, and piracy. 

Teagan Presley walking the red carpet.

Porn definitely seems to suffer more from piracy than mainstream (the most tech-savvy consumers are the biggest market demographic for the genre so that makes sense) but the cannibalism by the entire distribution chain seems to be more of a factor as over 10,000 titles were released yet again with billions in profit to be made for the companies that market properly.  The Chicken Little crowd point to the rise of the internet companies as the only ones making profit too but if DVD is dead and no money is to be made selling physical media, why do you think more and more of these companies have begun selling discs than ever before?

That's right, companies like Bang Brothers, Reality Kings, Naughty America, and a great many more that are held up as shining examples of the demise of DVD appear to disagree with those out there that would sell you a bill of goods.  In each case, DVD versions of their scenes are selling nicely and at very least supplementing the pay websites each has in operation.  Would they bother with physical media sales if there wasn't money to be had?  It just doesn't make sense that companies would bother with discs if there wasn't any additional money to be made this way.

How long would it take to download the movie Upload in high definition?

The reasons why sales are off are legion and best suited for a series of blogs but just as there are actually consumers out there still buying tapes (amazingly enough), there are scores of fans that aren't internet savvy enough to download movies or that like holding a title in their hand as much as I do.  They still buy and rent a lot of porn too, but even those that can steal movies are not as apt to spend like they used to when they can comparison shop easier than ever before.  The format war having recently been ended with the withdrawal of Toshiba may play a role too since many folks held off buying a lot of porn until they could see their favorite performers in the crystal clarity of high definition.

Over time, there is no doubt that VOD will grow as a viable revenue stream for the porn industry as will the upcoming wave of Blu-Ray titles but make no mistake about it that DVDs will be selling for a long time, perhaps as long as those tapes I mentioned earlier, and their demise is foolishly, and prematurely called for by people that should know better.  People will buy quality titles on whatever media they happen to be stored on, DVD the cheap alternative for people that don't care to spend hours downloading movies on their high speed internet
with the results often showing weaker picture, sound, and extras than the officially released disc version.  Having lost a few hard drives in recent years, I'm all too aware of the dangers of losing downloaded porn in the blink of an eye or finding a favored website no longer working so don't expect the physical media question to go away anytime soon.

Websites make money but physical sales are here to stay as well, just ask Gianna!

Companies can take steps to enhance the perceived value of discs to consumers but that is also another topic for a blog in the future, a topic I have readily engaged in with studio representatives for some time now, the idea of listening to what the consumer wants being paramount to driving sales in the tighter markets of the future.  Still, no sane person has made a credible case that sales of DVDs (mainstream or porn) are falling fast enough to merit the negative attention they have been getting of late so let's remember that no matter what some snake oil salesman tries to shove down your throat, DVDs are going to be around for a long time.

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