Saturday, March 19, 2011

Digital Digest: Is Physical Home Media Dying?

Welcome to the first Digital Digest of the spring season! It's yet another slow week in the world of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and all of these slow weeks have come together to prompt us to write about whether or not home media is dying out. Is it? We sure hope not, but it almost seems to be. Let's get going for what will not, despite the depressing news story that we have today, be the beginning of the end for Digital Digest!


DIGITAL NEWS

We hate mentioning Charlie Sheen in Digital Digest (OK, that's a lie, we love it), but a few months ago, we told you that Amazon.com was taking orders for the eighth season of Two and a Half Men would be coming to DVD. Well, it appears that Amazon.com made a "winning" decision to list that pre-order, and now a release date for the "crap fest that everybody worships" is set for September 13 at a $44.98 MSRP. You can pre-order the set now.

Now that we've given you news about a series that stars a man evidently from another universe, we head back into our own universe... you know, the one that started with a big bang. And that brings us to The Big Bang Theory, which we also previously announced was available for pre-order on Amazon.com. The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Fourth Season is set to land in our universe a week later, on September 20, on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The DVD comes at a $44.98 MSRP and the Blu-ray Disc comes at a $54.97 MSRP.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (March 22) is another dismal day of releases, but there are two "best of" releases from Mill Creek of series that Shout! Factory has already released in complete season form. The Bill Cosby Show - The Best of Season One and Marcus Welby, M.D. - The Best of Season One both include 10 episodes of each series at a $9.98 MSRP.


BLOG FEATURE STORY

Is Physical Home Media Dying?
by skees53

Every Saturday, we bring you news of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that are on the way. But if you've noticed (and you should, because we've pointed it out each and every week), that news has become very slow since the beginning of the year (and even slightly before then). So this begs the question: is physical home media dying?

It's been just over a decade since our favorite series began popping up on DVD. Starting with "best of" and volume sets of various series (some of which are long forgotten and out-of-print, such as the DVDs of The Wonder Years that were released in the late 90s), TV-on-DVD evolved into the format that we all came to love and enjoy by the early part of the decade, and by the middle part of the decade, we were seeing the first season of virtually every series known to man, even the most obscure of series. We started getting the most recent seasons of series currently airing just months after the season finale. But then, it all started to taper off.

Lately, we've been left with collections of TV series on our shelves that end with the first or second season, and we've been waiting months or years wondering when we'll be able to complete that collection, only to get more and more frustrated when we don't hear any news. We've seen major studios, such as Sony, who used to release anything and everything at a steady pace, more or less just stop releasing anything. So what's happening?

There isn't just one simple answer for this, but there are many factors that play in to this. Perhaps the biggest factor is where you are reading this very article--the internet. Just a decade ago, we were all chugging along the internet at what seemed at the time an amazingly fast 56 KB/s, but as we've evolved, almost all of use DSL or cable internet access now. This has allowed streaming video services to boom, and we can now watch episodes (or in some cases complete seasons or series) anytime we want at any place we want using services such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon.com. And in many cases, we can watch these shows for free or by paying a low monthly subscription price. Of course, that cost also plays into a factor. With an economy that still faces weaknesses, many people have cut back on discretionary spending, and of course DVDs--as much as we'd like to say they are important--are non-essential items for our household.

The adaptation to streaming video does have some flaws, however. Most of us don't want to watch TV on a tiny computer screen when we have a large LCD TV in our living room. There are solutions to get around that, such as using a Blu-ray player or other internet device connected to our TV, but not everybody is that advanced just yet. Another issue is quality. Streaming video-on-demand has come a long way, but unless you have an ultra-fast internet connection, you're still going to have some occasional issues with buffering and notice some obvious flaws in video quality that you wouldn't face by watching the same program with your own local physical media. Additionally, video-on-demand, whether free or purchased, just doesn't give you that excitement and allure that you get from holding that newly purchased DVD that you can add to your collection to show off all of the great DVDs that you own. And let's not forget that DVDs often come packaged with great special features, but with streaming video-on-demand, you usually don't get much more than just the episodes.

I don't think it is safe to write the obituary for DVDs just yet, but something is going to have to change to entice fans to buy DVDs as opposed to using streaming video services. Perhaps they need to include better special features, or maybe the format needs to evolve from complete season sets to complete series sets (in many cases, that is already happening). But there is definitely a change in the air for DVDs, and we'll really have no choice but to adapt to these changes.


LOOKING AHEAD

We hope that we haven't more or less written the obituary on digital home media this week, because we'd all love to see more series coming to DVD and Blu-ray Disc. But hopefully, with this being Digital Digest (as opposed to DVD Digest), we'll find relief on watching our favorite series on other formats. Whatever it takes to get it, we'll be there! And of course, we'll always be here for the DVDs that are on the way. After all, the format isn't exactly dead--not yet, anyway. In fact, next week, we'll have a review of Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two. Until then, keep it digital!


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March)

227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season

02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, March 26

The Simpsons - "Dad Behavior" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer finds a new app that makes his life much easier and outsources his father-son bonding. Meanwhile, Grampa finds that he is about to be a father again.

Bob's Burgers - "Aquaticism" / "Ain't Miss Debatin'" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
When Tina learns that the aquarium is in danger of closing, the Belcher children devise a scheme to keep it running. Meanwhile, Bob realizes that he could learn a thing or two from Linda’s customer service skills. Then, when Tina is recruited by the debate team, she finds unexpected success and an even more unexpected relationship. Meanwhile, Louise and Gene convince their parents to help fund a stop-motion movie focusing on a surprising subject matter.

Making History - "Chadwick's Angels" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
In need of a victory, the trio heads back to the 1990s to give Dan another shot at his childhood dream: finishing the infamous “Bellybuster” ice cream sundae at a local parlor. As Deb bonds with the parlor’s owner, Chris is on a mission to save a life in honor of his late British friend. But all of their plans are derailed when Dan runs into the bully that tormented him.

Family Guy - "Peter's Lost Youth" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter gets jealous of Lois when she upstages him at a Red Sox fantasy baseball camp. Meanwhile, Stewie runs away from home when Meg is left to babysit him.

The Last Man on Earth - "Find This Thing We Need To" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Carol makes a big discovery, enlisting Tandy and Erica to help her track down some answers. Meanwhile, Todd has a major breakthrough with Melissa.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 27)

Sunday, March 26

  • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Catch Sanaa on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, March 27
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Richard Dreyfuss (Your Family or Mine) - Richard appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Lily and Jane are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. They also chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) - Rachel is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Pete Holmes (Crashing) - Pete stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Ron Funches (Powerless/Undateable) - Ron is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kaitlin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi appears on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Tahj Mowry, Derek Theler and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Baby Daddy) - Tahj, Derek and Jean-Luc are guests on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Tika Sumpter (The Game) - Tika appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Vanessa Bell Calloway (Rhythm & Blues) - Vanessa is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie) - June talks about Grace and Frankie on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) and Ben Falcone (Joey) - Melissa and Ben talk TV Land's Nobodies on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Brooklyn Decker (Grace and Frankie/Friends with Better Lives) - Brookyln stops by People Now at 8:30am.
  • Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia opens up about her favorite part of being in the 50 Shades movies on People Now at 8:30am.
  • \
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee dishes about her Golden Globe win on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.