Feedback Fuels Boom
by Mike Snider, USA Today
Consumers' love affair with DVD has the home video industry catering to them as VHS viewers never were.
Studios are surveying consumers online and tapping into Internet forums to make sure the DVDs they bring to market have just the right ingredients to entice buyers. And studios and retailers are expected to continue indulging consumers as they attempt to fuel the DVD-buying boom, which is expected to rise from more than $12 billion in 2003 to $14 billion this year.
Consider: In creating the Kids in the Hall First Season DVD collection, A&E Home Video and Broadway Video used the kidsinthehall.com Web site to survey fans about what extras to put on the four-disc set. The DVD producers then recorded new interviews with the cast and producer Lorne Michaels, and added some unseen performances. The $60 set, available next week, can be ordered now at shopAETV.com.
Warner Home Video plans another "DVD Decision" campaign to find out what movies viewers want to see on DVD. Today, Warner releases the five films that America Online subscribers chose from 20 films broadcast on Turner Classic Movies. Their choices: Days of Wine & Roses, The Wind and the Lion, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Where the Boys Are.
The give and take between DVD buyers and the video industry is a win-win situation, says Yunda Eddie Feng, managing editor of DVDTown.com, a Web site that studios monitor. Buyers get what they want and studios find out early what's likely to sell.
A&E Home Video solicits input on its Web site about what TV series it should bring to DVD.
For an upcoming Dr. Quinn Third Season DVD set, followers of the series said, " 'You have got to get Joe (Lando) and Jane (Seymour) to do a commentary on the episode where they get married,' " says Kate Winn, A&E Home Video's vice president of sales and marketing. Seymour had not done a commentary in the two earlier sets, but "we got them together," she says.
With a major motion picture in the works for this year based on Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds TV series of the mid-1960s, A&E is creating a single DVD of the best episodes to coincide with the summer theatrical release. Fans will choose their favorites and Anderson will be consulted about the choices. "You get this real nice cohesion of the producer and fans coming together to help you build that product," Winn says.
Warner Bros. George Feltenstein mines Web sites like the Home Theater Forum (www.hometheaterforum.com) for what consumers want most on DVD.
"It is important to listen to what the people have to say because ultimately they make the buying decision," Feltenstein says.
"Prior to the Internet, you never had that kind of communication between the studios and consumers," says Ronald Epstein, co-owner of the forum. "They were doing nothing with VHS but slapping a movie on there. They weren't doing restorations. Our feedback shaped what went on DVDs and what DVD titles are released."
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