Saturday, August 15, 2009

Even more restrictions added to the home video rental market

from movie marketing madness:

So Warner Bros. not only wants to join Universal and 20th Century Fox in withholding its new releases from Redbox rental kiosks for a month (28 days, to be exact) after the hit home video, but it also is seeking to renegotiate its contract with Netflix along similar lines.

Great, good idea. Let me know how that works out for you, when people go to Netflix, realize they can’t get the latest Harry Potter movie there. I’m sure that won’t at all be “What do you mean I have to wait a month?” followed by a sour feeling toward both WB and the movie specifically.

This whole discussion seems to be predicated on the idea that the decision between buying and renting puts those two options on equal footing. As if consumers see both as equally viable options and it’s kind of a toss-up based on availability.

Only it’s not. Renting and purchasing are very different. Very few people are going to see a movie is unavailable at their rental outlet of choice and think “Oh, well then I’ll just go buy it.” That’s not where their head is at. They want to see the movie (for the first or repeated times) and then be done with it. If someone’s in the mood to buy, they will. If they’re in the mood to rent and can’t, they’ll become what are commonly called “dissatisfied customers.”

Not only that, but all this has me wondering what percentage of DVD sales are actually the result of a previous rental. As in, someone rented the movie (once or multiple times) and then decided it was worth buying. So by making a movie unavailable where and when people want to get it at the moment its hype is at its second greatest peak (theatrical release being the first greatest) is there the potential that sales are actually being hurt?

I’m all for a lot of experimentation in this new media age as companies seek to find the model that works for them and for consumers. But generally those experiments err toward making something over-available and then pulling back based on results, not by creating artificial scarcity.

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