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 (March/April)

The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five

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 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, April 28

Stuck in the Middle - "Stuck with a Boy Genius" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Harley, Rachel, Georgie and Ethan attend their school spring formal dance, while Lewie and Beast camp out at home in the backyard.

Andi Mack - "It's Not About You" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Andi's frustration boils over when she discovers that Buffy has secretly been confiding in Bex instead of her; Cyrus double-dates with Jonah Beck, Amber and her friend Iris.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 24)

Friday, April 28

  • Gabourey Sidibe (The Big C) - Watch Gabourey on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Martin Short (Mulaney/The Martin Short Show) - Martin stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Britt Robertson (Girlboss) - Britt is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Anna Baryshnikov (Superior Donuts) - Anna is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Alec is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Laura Dern (Enlightened), Joely Fisher (Ellen/'Til Death), Clea Lewis (Ellen/Flying Blind) and David Anthony Higgins (Ellen/Malcolm in the Middle/Big Time Rush) - The Ellen DeGeneres Show celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Ellen coming out episode, so check your local listings.
  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Alec talks about Donald Trump, too much alcohol and the thing that saved his life on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Courting Alex/Accidentally on Purpose/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. She also dishes about Imaginary Mary on The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Kathryn Hahn (Happyish/Transparent/Free Agents) - Kathryn is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.