Newspapers and The Great DVD Giveaway.

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Allan, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. Allan

    Allan Guest

    Newspapers and The Great DVD Giveaway
    Date Wednesday, October 12 @ 11:36:17
    Topic Latest News

    Millions of newspaper readers have been bulking out their DVD
    collections recently with free giveaways from the national press. But
    how can papers afford to be so generous?
    A DVD of the 1999 Bafta-winning British comedy East is East sells for
    about £5 on the High Street. Alternatively, you could have picked up a
    copy at your local newsagents at the weekend, free with the £1.20

    On the same day the Times was offering a DVD of the 1972 Liza Minnelli
    classic Cabaret (retail price about £15) while Independent readers
    could enjoy a free copy of the Oscar-winning Catherine Deneuve film
    Indochine, which would otherwise set them back about £8 in the shops.

    A film buff might point out that these giveaway DVDs lack the extras -
    subtitles, deleted scenes, etc - included in the shop-bought versions.

    But a free movie is a free movie. Which raises the question - how can
    papers afford it?

    They can't, says media commentator Roy Greenslade, at least not if
    they want to make money. But unlike other areas of business, the
    newspaper game has never been about profit.

    The great DVD giveaway is just the latest instalment in Fleet Street's
    endless turf war.

    "It's digital bingo," says Greenslade, referring to the period, 20
    years ago, when tabloid editors employed prize-winning bingo games to
    woo new readers.

    It was the Sunday papers which started giving away free CDs. The
    Saturdays followed and this week, the battle has spilled over from the
    weekend editions. The Sun is offering a series of BBC Comedy Greats on
    DVD, including Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies.

    The Daily Mail meanwhile, has a series of 12 - "collect them all" -
    free children's DVDs, including Superted, Rosie and Jim, and Fireman

    Crucially, perhaps, these weekday offers are not "cover mounts" - ie
    the DVDs do not come with the paper - and rely on readers taking a
    voucher to a shop to redeem their free disc.

    Offers of free DVDs are a proven sales winner, says Greenslade, but
    only in the very short-term.

    Free paper with your DVD?
    "They create only circulation spikes," he says. "Editors hope people
    will buy the paper for the DVD and become loyal readers, leading to
    long-term stability."

    In fact, such offers seem to be creating an army of "newspaper tarts"
    - people who buy for the giveaway, rather than the paper itself.

    "It's getting to the stage in a few years where you'll get a free
    newspaper with your CD or DVD," says Greenslade.

    "It's a fight to the death, a case of last man standing. But
    newspapers are not about profit, they're about influence. So the
    owners will just plough in more and more money."

    While papers may not be profiting from such offers, they're not losing
    as much as you might imagine.

    The cost price of each disc could be as low as 16p-18p, says an
    industry source who asked not to be named. That includes the pressing
    of the disc, the cardboard wallet, artwork on the disc and the cover,
    and artistic royalties. It even includes a small payment to Philips,
    which claims a royalty on every DVD produced.

    'Negative message'
    CDs, he says, will cost marginally less.

    "Knock-out 10,000 DVDs and you're looking at maybe 34p each; 100,000
    at 25p each, half a million at 23p each. So when you get into the
    millions, which are what the tabloids sell, it's even less."

    Costs are trimmed at every corner, he says, and the discs were
    probably pressed during the summer, when factories are quieter but
    want to keep their presses running.

    The artistic royalties for each film, meanwhile, will be signed up for
    "maybe £100,000 to £125,000", while the lightweight discs are "superb"
    for storage and transportation.

    But not everyone is happy with the arrangement. HMV is one of several
    retailers worried that such giveaways will diminish the value of their

    "DVDs should be aspirational but if you see them being tossed around
    it sends out a negative message," says HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.
    "It devalues the medium in the minds of the public."

    But doesn't the fact that a DVD can be made for as little as 16p
    suggest customers are being ripped off in the shops?

    Mr Castaldo rejects it as a "facile argument". The cost of DVDs sold
    in shops reflects the "full costs of creating a film, distribution,
    marketing and selling it."

    "But DVD prices have been coming down a lot recently."

    In the mean time, Fleet Street's long-standing enmities are helping
    the canniest readers build extensive DVD libraries. Soon they'll be
    shouting 'full house!'

    Story source:

    "Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game
    because they almost always turn out to be -- or to be indistinguishable from
    -- self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time."
    - Neil Stephenson, _Cryptonomicon_
    Allan, Oct 12, 2005
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