Monday, August 29, 2005

Livid about divid

Why are DVDs now subsidising VHS video tapes? More importantly, why are video tapes cheaper?

Okay, so they’re cheaper because you get no extras and a shitty picture quality on an inconvenient format that gets worse every time you use it. With DVDs, you’re paying for ‘quality, reliability, durability, ease-of-use, extra content, etc, etc, etc...

But why pay more for things which are an automatic by-product of the format and the improvement in technology?

It infuriates me when I see an advert for a new film which says “Available on DVD for £19.99 and VHS for £15.99.

Think about it. A VHS cassette has lots of little springs, cogs, levers and flaps. Not only can they all go wrong, but the manufacturing and assembly costs must be enormous compared to a bit of laminated plastic. Blank DVDs, for example, can be found for around 20p each. A blank video tape costs about £2.00.

Then there’s the size and weight. A VHS cassette package is twice the size and three times the weight of a DVD. This means that the packing, freighting, warehousing, stocking, distributing, posting and storing of the format is at least 2 to 3 times the cost.

An argument might be made for market penetration, but this too is nonsense. Fewer and fewer High Street shops and online retailers bother with the format. On the playback hardware front, VCRs are on average twice the price of a DVD player – which can now be bought from supermarkets for as little as £25 – so there is no excuse for people not to upgrade: an entry level player costs less than two pre-recorded tapes.

So why don’t the manufactures just stop?

Why not put the subsidy that is obviously eating into DVD profits into giving away the player hardware? Yes, let people simply swap their old VCRs for a basic DVD player and stop this nonsense?

Better still, dump the tapes and drop the price of DVDs by whatever amount you’ve added on to finance a more expensive, limited appeal and disposable format – at, scandalously, a cheaper price!

What’s up?


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