Recent developments in the movie world suggest that digital delivery and availability help the bottom line.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced during a recent investor call that Warner Brothers will soon release DVDs and video-on-demand (VOD) titles on the same day. The company — like all Hollywood studios — has long employed a multi-week delay between a film’s DVD release and its availability through on-demand rental systems. However, interesting results from a Warner Brothers pilot program could mark the end of this staggered system. From The New York Times:
Warner Brothers has been experimenting with the new approach [simultaneous release] for the last few months. It has found that DVD rentals only fell by 3 percent to 5 percent and sales of DVDs actually increased, perhaps because of the increased promotion and fewer used rental discs available for sale.
Apple and other movie studios are already taking note.
A portion of Warners’ increased DVD sales could plug in to the “souvenir” purchasing seen in other industries. At its core, this concept is driven by a simple chain of events: digital distribution boosts accessibility, which increases awareness and — for a subset of the viewing population — inspires customers to purchase physical copies of a film.
This line of thinking (digital distribution + accessibility + awareness = revenue) drives envelope-pushing initiatives, like intentional distribution through P2P networks. On the publishing side, it’s also why the Kindle’s killer app resides in the device’s built-in Whispernet connectivity, which makes it easy for consumers to find, sample and purchase material. Some of these same people will likely convert into hard-copy customers as well.