Did Amazon Cash In Big On Oprah Viewers' Confusion?

from the mistaken-identity dept

theodp writes "In mid-December, the NY Post credited an endorsement from Oprah on her 'Favorite Things' show for making Planet Earth the best-selling DVD set on Amazon. And Amazon just reported that the $54.99 boxed set was one of its three best-selling DVDs this holiday season in terms of units sold. It'd be ironic if the huge sales numbers can be attributed to The Oprah Effect, since the David Attenborough-narrated version of Planet Earth sold by Amazon certainly wasn't the same as the Sigourney Weaver-narrated version sold by the Discovery Channel Store that was actually on Oprah's List. That the Amazon version wasn't just-what-the-Oprah-ordered wasn't evident from the Amazon web site, although some customers tried to warn potential buyers. Wasn't Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos all about warning customers that they're getting the wrong video, even at the expense of sales? Will breaking the don't-mess-with-Oprah rule come back to haunt Amazon in the form of refund requests?"


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Able-X, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    different versions

    I've only ever watched it on the Discovery Channel, are the two versions significantly different, other than who is reading the narration?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Natural selection, it takes many forms...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    I'm not sure what Amazon is supposed to do? Put a big image on the page saying Don't Buy This! It's Not on Oprah's List! I say as long as they don't put a sign up that says it is an item listed on Oprah's List then they didn't do anything wrong, and those who bought it should do some leg work next time and they wont make a mistake like this.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    It's the same basic mini-series isn't it? 11 parts, probably all the same footage... Just one is in a BBC box with BBC labeling and David Attenborough narrating.

    The other is in a Discovery box with Discovery labeling and Sigourney Weaver narrating.

    What's the big difference??? I'd probably rather have the BBC one anyway...

    But I'll admit Amazon and eBay are both really really bad about crap like this, but in the end it's just another reason that it pays to not be an idiot consumer when buying things on the interwebs.

     

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  5.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

    I was actually hoping that TechDirt was...

    ...the last "Oprah-Free-Zone" on the internet.

    (Sigh.)

     

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  6.  
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    alice_b0wie, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    oprah is a vile person. who cares what she says and does, i'm glad youtube ran her off. she such a sick and twisted individual.

     

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  7.  
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    Raptor85, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    What's the big deal?

    Personally, the BBC one was narrated a bit better anyways, nothing against Sigourney Weaver just having seen them both that's how i feel, her voice just didn't "fit" to me, was a little distracting from the footage. Other than the narration it's the same video clips.

     

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  8.  
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    Able-X, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

    different versions

    maybe i'll have to pick up the David Attenborough narrated ones then, I too didn't think her voice fit real well for the narration. Not dramatic enough IMO.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    It looks like Oprah's fault along with the viewers. On her list is does not specify what one but if you go through to discovery it says who did the commentary (but you need to scroll down to see it) and that this one is approved by Oprah. Amazon states who narrated it and never said that Oprah approved it or anything.

    How many people bought the wrong HD format of that box set?

    Ps. Oprah is nothing special!

     

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  10.  
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    hozen, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    retarded people

    maybe peole should pay more attention to what they buy before they buy it. and maybe they should learn to think for them selves rather than letting oprah and dr. phil do it for them

     

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  11.  
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    Jack Sombra, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    Amazon did them them a favor

    British Edition
    90 More Minutes of footage
    Narrated by probably the most respected makers and presenters of nature documentarys in the world with over 50 years experience


    US Edition
    90 Minutes less footage
    Narrated by a hollywood actress who is a minor player in the environmentalist who is more known for killing aliens than anything else.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:02pm

    Re:

    The opinion that oprah is a vile person seem to have nothing in common with the discussion at hand.

    Though, I am not certain that you committed the logical fallacy ad hominem.


    Also, you never explain why she is a vile person. Thus your persuasiveness is zero.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:02pm

    Dude, the David Attenborough one is better. Sweet British accent versus Alien killing voice, I recommend the former.

     

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  14.  
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    SM, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Amazon didn't do anything shady

    Maybe I'm missing something, but it was some of Amazon's *customers* who took it upon themselves to tag that item as "Oprahs favorite things." Amazon most certainly wasn't implying that the item had anything to do with Oprah or her lists.

     

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  15.  
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    Guy with the BBC Version, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    HD Quality

    I have been told that the BBC version in the HD format is true 1080p while the Discovery channel version while in HD is not true 1080p. I don't know if that is in fact true, but I can attest that the BBC Version is breathtaking.

     

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  16.  
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    Another Anon, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    the BBC version has more footage and better narration, amazon did their customers a favor

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Sigourney Weaver is hot. But unless Amazon put up a big sign that said "Oprah's favorite" it isn't exactly dishonest of them. It seems simply a matter of people being idiots and buying the wrong item. The way you say it makes it sound like Amazon set out to fool people.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:32pm

    Yet another caveat emptor. Why should other people be responsible for your stupidity?

     

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  19.  
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    TheDock22, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:43pm

    Oprah

    Oprah's followers are sheep. The next president of the United States might be voted in just because she supports him.

    But the BBC version was WAY better than the US version, which is probably why few people have asked for refunds.

     

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  20.  
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    Jamie, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Not Amazon's fault

    I don't see how this could possibly be Amazon's fault. They never said it was the Oprah recommended version, and didn't try to trick the customers in any way.
    Both video's were for sale before the Oprah endorsement. So it isn't like the one video was put out trying to capitalize on the popularity from the endorsement.

     

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  21.  
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    JB, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 2:10pm

    Re: HD Quality

    I don't think 1080p is available in anything other than HD-DVD or BluRay. "HD format" is usually 720p or 1080i. Conventional DVDs are, I believe more like 480i (or 480p? I get confused!)

    No such thing as "true" or "not true" 1080p in any case.

     

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  22.  
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    Mich, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    For Christmas, I gave out Kiva.org gift certificates and became a member on GreenDimes.com. Why? Because of Oprah.

    Props.

     

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  23.  
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    Jake, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 2:36pm

    TechDirt nails it -- I was suckered into wrong ver

    My wife and I really enjoyed the Sigorney Weaver version and are very disappointed in the version received from Amazon. Should've opened it immediately -- lesson learned. Don't buy through Amazon anymore.

     

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  24.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    Kind of off topic but....

    ...to number 18, I decided that Obama had my vote long before Oprha threw her support his way. Furthermore, I like Ben Affleck way better and I seem to recall that he supported the Clintons. It's crap to assume that people are voting for him just because Oprah said so.

    Believe me, I work in a book store and we never saw so many people come in and leave mad and empty-handed (and many who purchased later returned) as when she recommended James Frey's 'Million Little Pieces', which is about a bunch of drug addicts. People see a cool item on Oprah's show, they pos def go look at it but it doesn't mean that buy it, keep it, and revere it because of Oprah. We're not all lemurs, yanno.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:11pm

    The Sigourney Weaver version is much less fun to watch.. I actually sent back the Sigourney Weaver version and got the one by the original author, Sir David Attenborough (who was involved with it's production)

     

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  26.  
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    Dr. Phil, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Kind of off topic but....

    To # 23

    "I decided that Obama had my vote long before Oprah threw her support his way" - Congratulations, but many people are supporting him based on Oprah's recommendation. The country is now deciding on the presidency of the United States in much the same manner that we purchase books. Very sad indeed.

    "Furthermore, I like Ben Affleck way better and I seem to recall that he supported the Clintons." – You like him way better? OMG, do you like him this much (outstretched arms)?! Liking Ben Affleck is your personal problem and is apropos of nothing.

    " Believe me, I work in a book store and we never saw so many people come in and leave mad and empty-handed" - Really? People actually left "mad" because they did not like a book that the big O recommended? Views on literature (and art in general) are subjective and differ from person to person. No reason to get mad just because Oprah likes a book that you don't. The fact that they are mad just goes to show that they are placing too much importance on someone else’s ability to make decisions for them.

    "…which is about a bunch of drug addicts" - Are you implying that the book is bad because of its subject matter? So a book about drug addicts cannot be good? That is an odd sentiment from someone who works in a book store, believe me, I shop in book stores.

     

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  27.  
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    Bob, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    And another hippy joins the environmentalist nazis. Im sick and tired of you people telling me how I will live my life, what I can drive and kind of light bulb I WILL use. screw you

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    And another hippy joins the environmentalist nazis. Im sick and tired of you people telling me how I will live my life, what I can drive and kind of light bulb I WILL use. screw you

    Moron.

     

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  29.  
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    Cixelsid, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Re: Kind of off topic but....

    OMG DR PHIL SHOPS IN BOOK STORES?!!

    I JUST CAME

    IN MY PANTS!!!111!ONE!ONE11

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 4:06pm

    Re:

    The Sigourney Weaver version is much less fun to watch.. I actually sent back the Sigourney Weaver version and got the one by the original author, Sir David Attenborough (who was involved with it's production) This story would have been way more interesting if Sigourney Weaver came to your house and you had to send her back cause she was less fun to watch than Dr. Phil shopping for books in a book store. YAWN

     

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  31.  
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    linuxamp, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

    I fully agree with the users who say that it's totally Oprah's fault and not Amazon.

    If however Amazon had some marketing material on the site suggesting that it was "Oprah recommended" then shame on them but that wasn't the case. Either way I'm sure both are very good although I've only seen the Attenborough version.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 5:19pm

    Amazon's page says quite specifically that it is the version narrated by Attenborough.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 5:22pm

    or rather, says it specifically, many times, two of which are bold and prominent.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    BK, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 8:23pm

    Re: TechDirt nails it -- I was suckered into wrong

    -- lesson learned. Don't buy through Amazon anymore.

    Are you frickin kidding me? I hope this was tounge in cheek, because I cant even believe you might stop shopping at a place because you made a mistake.

     

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  35.  
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    theodp, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 9:00pm

    Fuller Disclosure vs. Boldface

    Boldface won't help much if the most pertinent information isn't presented. For example, away from the product page, the Official Amazon Screening Room also employs boldface as it specifically pitches viewers of the Discovery Channel version of Planet Earth narrated by Weaver that was recommended by Oprah, but IMHO the following passage still leaves buyers with the impression that only the Attenborough-narrated version is available on DVD: 'Note that while Sigourney Weaver is narrating the show on Discovery, the DVDs will feature the original David Attenborough narration.'

     

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  36.  
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    aracne, Jan 9th, 2008 @ 12:19am

    Mystery solved...

    I saw in a retail workers forum some time ago that somebody returned a set of documentaries and her reason was that the narrator was British. Everybody was mystified about that.

    I should have guessed something like this.

     

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  37.  
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    Vincent McBurney, Jan 9th, 2008 @ 12:54am

    You've got this story back to front

    Agree with the other commenters - Amazon did the right thing. It sold the original version with the best wildlife presenter in the history of television - the version I watched. It's a tragedy that the Discovery channel thought they needed an American accent for their shortened inferior version and that Oprah plugged it. It's like flogging a shortened version of Lord of the Rings with Jar Jar Binks dubbing all the Gandalf dialog. "Meesah thinks you hobbits is great".

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 1:46am

    Re: Re: Kind of off topic but....

    I wasn't implying anything at all. The book has many, many drug addicts in it. In fact, every single main character is a drug addict. The casual term for 'many' is 'bunch'. What would you prefer I call them? Genetically challenged or some such crap? Or 'drug addicts', which is what they call themselves? Do you have something against drug addicts? Is that why you so quickly jumped to that conclusion?

    And as a matter of fact, I own both 'Million Little Pieces' and it's sequel, 'My Friend Leonard' and (once again) I owned them both before Oprah had James Frey on the show. In addition, I didn't return them after he finally admitted that it was mainly (partially?) fiction.

    And how would it be an odd sentiment from someone who works in a book store? Are you saying that people who work in book stores can't have any negative opinions about books or genres? That's kind of silly. Personally, I see zero merit in books about vampire sex, but they just fly off the shelves. Is that an odd sentiment, also?

    In discussing a celebrity endorement, I mentioned another celebrity endorsement. How is that 'appropriate of nothing'? (By the way, I think you mean 'has nothing to do with this', since 'apropo' means 'appropriate' and the phrase 'appropriate of nothing' is semantically null.)

     

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  39.  
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    SailorRipley, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 5:55am

    Re: You've got this story back to front

    It's like flogging a shortened version of Lord of the Rings with Jar Jar Binks dubbing all the Gandalf dialog. "Meesah thinks you hobbits is great".

    That is just hilarious....thank you

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    paul, Mar 6th, 2008 @ 5:40pm

    you are all hilarious...but!

    come on guys i know your american, but you do understand an english voice...surely?
    if oprah has forgotten to recommended the sigourney weaver version then she's done you all a great favour.
    firstly you get to see the planet earth as it was intended,by the bbc (not discovery,who never made the series).
    secondly you and your families get to hear the accent of a different country to your own,there by bettering your geographical worldly sense,which ironicly is exactly what the planet earth is all about.
    and lastly you get to realize that not everything is made by the united states of america,and that sometimes,somewhere outside of your "tunnel visioned country" there are other film makers who are making productive,educational wild life series much,much better than your own discovery channel can handle.
    so with this and oprah's blessing, i recommend you buy the amazon virsion and learn about world nature issues through the eye's of a neutral observer.as apposed the the blinkered view of the american goverment of late.

     

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  41.  
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    Jonathan, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 5:14pm

    Re: TechDirt nails it -- I was suckered into wrong ver

    Are you serious? Because you didn't do any research you won't buy from Amazon any more? How did they deceive you? Would you really have known the difference at Best Buy either? I bet not. Don't blame others for your own mistakes. Personal responsibility people.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Are you volunteering to use your back yard as a disposal site for such things then? If you want them so bad you should be willing to take the consequences.

    I will pipe all the pollution I breath from your SUV into your house for you to enjoy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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