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 (December/January)

American Dad! - Volume 11 Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One

12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, January 17

The Middle - "Pitch Imperfect" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Axl begins to panic when he realizes that he only has four months of college left before he graduates, and he hasn’t sent out any job resumes – something he should have started when he was a junior. Meanwhile, Brad agrees to lead Sue’s no-cut a cappella group as they enter a music competition, and Brick desperately asks for Frankie and Mike’s advice when girlfriend Cindy tells him that he reads too much, and if he doesn’t stop, she’ll break up with him.

American Housewife - "Surprise" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Oliver tells his parents that he’s so embarrassed by their modest house that he’d rather not have a birthday party at all. Katie decides to teach him a lesson by ambushing him with a surprise party at home with all his wealthy friends.

Fresh Off the Boat - "The Best of Orlando" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Louis is named “Small Businessman of the Year,” Jessica is overflowing with pride and invites everyone they know to join them at the awards ceremony. But when Louis forgets to thank Jessica during his acceptance speech, he suffers the repercussions at home. Meanwhile, Eddie, Emery and Grandma start their own clothing line and quickly discover the challenges of running their own small business.

The Real O'Neals - "The Real Acceptance" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After Kenny and Brett officially become a couple, Kenny starts to think of plan on how he should break the news to his parents. Meanwhile, Jimmy surprises everyone when he scores a high SAT score, forcing Eileen to hold up her end of a deal that she had previously made and takes Jimmy car shopping.

New Girl - "Cece's Boys" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Jess tries to find a new vice principal, she discovers that she has a real problem when it comes to making decisions. Meanwhile, Cece enlists Jess and Reagan to help her recruit new models, and the guys are in for a surprise when they enjoy a day at the spa.

The Mick - "The Fire" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Mickey tries to quit smoking. Meanwhile, Ben meets a new friend.

Teachers - "First Day Back" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
As the teachers return from summer break, Ms. Watson tries an ultra premium online dating service and Ms. Snap learns that she’s been given the worst group of kids in school. Mrs. Adler is assigned to a mobile classroom.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 16)

Tuesday, January 17

  • Katy Mixon (American Housewife/Mike & Molly) - Catch Katy on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Billy Eichner (Difficult People) - Billy is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Patrick Warburton (Crowded/Rules of Engagement/Less Than Perfect) - Patrick stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York.
  • Anders Holm (Workaholics) - Anders is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Rory Scovel (Ground Floor) - Rory appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Kathy is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Louie Anderson (Baskets/Life with Louie/The Louie Show) - Louie drops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown (The Odd Couple/Community) - Yvette joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Andrew Dice Clay (Bless This House/Hitz) - Andrew is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) - Kym visits Cleveland on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.