What is going through the minds of those in charge of Region 2 DVD. While some studio's are doing their best to ensure that the Region 2 market continues to expand at a phenomenal rate, others such as Fox and Buena Vista are now realising that instead of supporting the market they can milk it for all it's worth.
Fox started the consumer backlash with their high prices when they entered the market at the end of last year, they once again courted trouble by introducing the first rental window. Fox have only scheduled a few titles - preferring to see how the rental idea takes off instead of pumping lots of money into what could be a potential disaster. Unfortunately, Buena Vista have decided that they're going to force a rental window on us whether we like it or not and they have scheduled titles for rental release right up until the end of the year and possibly farther.
There is no denying that DVD has taken hold in the UK market. Player sales continue to increase at previously unheard of rate and discs are being bought in the tens of thousands during their first week on release. Unfortunately (in the scope of this article) the shadow that is Region 1 is still towering over us and people are still buying Region 1 discs for two good reasons - higher quality and earlier release dates. Some Region 1 discs are available before the film even hits the cinema in the UK.
By introducing a rental window and pushing back the Region 2 retail releases even further, distributors such as Buena Vista and Fox are making Region 1 DVD seem even more tempting. While price-wise the differences between the Regions has become less favourable to importers, there is no argument that if someone can get a disc eight months earlier, with more features from the other side of the world for the same price as walking into a UK highstreet retailer they are going to get out their credit cards and order from the US.
Instead of trying to actively support the Region 2 market which other studios have worked very hard to build, the two culprits here are taking advantage and doing their utmost to ensure that they make as much money out of the UK consumer as possible. Thankfully, the major Region 2 supporters are currently against the rental window - if they took the same view as Buena Vista and Fox, the Region 2 market would go into decline as more and more people go back to buying from abroad. DVD player sales would fall as consumers find that DVD releases no longer appeared months ahead of their VHS counterparts and as a result distributors would get the impression that Region 2 DVD is a lost cause and it would be all down to their actions.
It may seem a far-fetched scenario, but our current poll suggests that it is something which could happen. If over 98% of our visitors think rental windows are a bad idea, what does that say about its chances of success? I'll leave that up to you to decide!
If you'd like to discuss this matter then make your way to the forum!