by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
dvds, extras, rentals


If Your Business Model Revolves Around Taking Some Feature Away From People, You're Doing It Wrong

from the add-value,-not-diminish-it... dept

I'm always amazed when companies think that they can take features away from users and then charge more for re-accessing those features. Taking features away from people to charge them for them almost never works. It just pisses off people who quickly go looking for alternatives. The latest company getting set to discover this for themselves appears to be 20th Century Fox studios, who wants to remove all the special features from rental DVDs in the hopes that people will buy those DVDs instead. Of course, what might happen is that fewer people rent their movies and fewer people buy the movies. I'm a fan of various DVD extras -- and it's part of the reason why I rent movies. If a DVD doesn't have them, I'm a lot less likely to rent the film -- and I'm unlikely to buy a DVD if I haven't first seen it as a rental. So, for me, Fox's strategy will certainly backfire, and I'd imagine the same is true for many others as well.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    superdude, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 5:56pm

    Does it matter?

    From listening to the entertainment industry I though everyone just got their movie's from the pirate bay. How can sales go lower if that's true?

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

  2. identicon
    Brad Hubbard, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 6:04pm

    Here's a way for them to get rid of all the special features - let Netflix stream your entire collection.

    See, that way I'm much more likely to see a movie I like, then go buy the DVD. I sure as hell would never RENT a DVD that's incomplete, but I might stream just the movie portion, and decide "Yeah, I liked that enough to want to own it."

    And they even already have a distribution medium for this that costs them nothing!

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

  3. identicon
    some old guy, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 6:20pm

    The other way around please

    "bonus content" is a crock of shit. I'd like it taken away from the retail DVDs so they will stop jacking up the price of the dvd by adding in extra shit that noone wants or cares about.

    As far as I am concerned the rental DVD just became BETTER than the retail DVD.

    But then, I got pissed at the "would you steal a car" ads that I couldn't skip through and haven't bought a dvd since. I just torrent stuff I want to watch now.

    Yes yes, keep pissing off your customers. See how well that works for ya?

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

  4. identicon
    zcat, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 6:26pm

    One thing they COULD remove

    If they removed that fscking 'anti-piracy' message I'd seriously consider repurchasing every DVD I own just to be rid of it.

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

  5. icon
    crystalattice (profile), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:03pm

    I rarely watch it

    The DVD extras are a "nice to have", not a "must have" for me. I rarely watch them and when I do, it's only once. I can see having them in the rental version more so than the purchased version. How often do you need to see how a movie was made or the storyboard featurette?

    When I rip movies to my HD, I never include the whole DVD, just the movie itself. That saves nearly 3GB of space, if not more.

    Personally though, I much prefer buying the $5 DVDs in the bargain bin that are just the movie rather than $20+ for a DVD w/ extras.

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

  6. identicon
    NotBob, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 9:28pm

    Good luck

    I've been renting more movies than previously and in the last year or so I haven't seen one yet that was actually worth buying. They can take away the bonus features (which I do watch) and I STILL wouldn't buy their mediocre movie. So the better strategy would be to make some good movies and then we'll see.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 1:21am

    "Taking features away from people to charge them for them almost never works."
    I understand the sentiment but it's written very oddly with the word "never" in italics :

    If it never works you could just say so.

    If you are not sure you could say so, or just fudge the issue and just say "almost never".

    If you are not sure but have an urge to say some ting definitive, but don't have the journalist's discipline to actually try and find the answer you might just look like you are ranting about things you don't really understand.

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

  8. identicon
    Yogi, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 1:33am

    It's a good idea

    They let you see the movie and if you like it a lot you'll probably want to see the extras so you'll buy it.

    It makes sense to me.

    Anyway, wouldn't the studio do this only after some kind of consumer survey? They're not just shooting in the dark, right?

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

  9. icon
    Cap'n Jack (profile), Mar 14th, 2009 @ 5:45am

    This could work, but it certainly will begin to hurt DVD rentals. If you like the movie enough to watch the extras, you're probably going to want to buy it. Taking it off the DVD rentals just means people will turn away from renting DVDs - especially when you can easily access the same exact content online for free, and sometimes quicker than it takes to go out to the store and rent a movie.

    I don't think it will have any effect what-so-ever, negative or positive, on DVD sales.

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

  10. identicon
    anon e maus, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    load, shoot foot, repeat

    I stopped renting DVD's when the store stopped letting me take the dvd case with the liner notes etc, and insisted on a bright orange box with VIDEO 2000 emblazoned on it.

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

  11. icon
    kirillian (profile), Mar 14th, 2009 @ 8:26am


    And if you had the guts to at least put your name up here, we might take your own ranting a little more seriously, but until you get some commenter's discipline (does this kind of BS even exist?!?!?), we can't help but think that you really don't understand.

    O, btw...stop fudging the issue yourself. If yall are so mentally handicapped that you can't READ some previous articles on your own and need Mike and the rest of the readers here to take you by the hand and walk you through the thinking process so that you understand what is going on here, then why the heck do you come here?!!? Get a grip on reality people. You have permission to think for yourself (and read for yourself).

    Don't get your panties in a wad just cuz Mike didn't spell out years of blogging, comments, and thinking for you in a few sentences...dang...

    He's making a conclusive statement that MAKES SENSE in light of recent posts and discussions...

    ~ Some days I roll out of bed and want to shoot all the stupid people in the world...then I realize that was probably me yesterday.

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

  12. identicon
    Sean, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re:

    If he had the guts to put his name up? You use a god damn Internet handle and you criticize someone else for not having the guts to use their real name?

    Turn that gun on yourself first you idiot.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    It depends on the price point

    I would say that it largely depends on the price point. DVDs right now are $10-15, if they were $2-7, you might get more volume. Decontenting them might be the way. And you would pretty much eliminate the secondary market. Could be a good move, if marketed right.

    But probably not through rental places. A friend of mine owns a video chain and he just buys movies wherever they are cheapest, there are no 'rental specific' movies or outlets and you don't need an agreement with the distributor to rent out a movie.

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

  14. icon
    kirillian (profile), Mar 14th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    My handle is identifiable...Anonymous Coward is kinda not...

    You know about as much about me as I do about you...Sean tells me nothing...just like my handle tells you nothing...except that the comment belongs to me...the only difference between an internet handle and a name is that the internet handle can be impersonated don't give me that Bull-shit...

    the only gun I was pulling was the smoking gun he had already pointed anonymously at Mike...I just found it curious that he could make such an accusation that showed the fact that he obviously doesn't read the posts (or doesn't comprehend what he reads)...and had the audacity on top of that to be unidentifiable...

    The difference between him and you and I is that every time I see a post signed with Sean, I assume it must be you (I can't do anything else but...)...and when a post comes in signed kirillian, you have to assume its from me...because names involve a level of trust...anonymous coward does not convey anything of the kind because we assume its some random person out in some vague sea of people...

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

  15. identicon
    Mihnea, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 7:56pm

    Haha very true

    Very true indeed, the key is to actually give people more features and always staying ahead of your competition. Uh..some people.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 10:32pm

    I'm sure it will fail. And then 20th Century Fox will have some (fake) statistics to back up their claims that piracy is killing the movie industry.

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

  17. identicon
    prata, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 4:38am

    Re: It's a good idea

    It's a good idea if your form of screening movies means you rent them. The extras may not be so important in that regard. It is not a good idea if renting movies is your main source of video entertainment. In that respect the studios are removing something that has always been present, and now they want to double dip on you.

    As a disclaimer I don't rent movies. This has to do with the fact that I don't watch much Hollywood entertainment. I prefer foreign films which aren't heavily populated in brick and mortar establishments.

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

  18. identicon
    Jimmie, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    I think the movie companies are doing this to hurt Redbox because Universal is threatening to remove movies out of Redbox. Renting a movie for a dollar a day in a movie executives eyes is lessening the value of the product instead of having the product more readily accessible.

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

  19. identicon
    Sid G., Mar 15th, 2009 @ 5:39pm

    The best title ever

    The title of this article is so spot on that I actually pumped my fist in the air when I read it. Taking something away and then charging more for it is why I don't have cable T.V. right now. I got so tired of the channels I liked being scrambled and then finding out I could pay another $10 a month for another "tier" of service. So now I have satellite service and so far they haven't pulled this on me. When you are making money but want to make more money the key is to add more features, not charge more and P.O. your customers. Well done, Mike!

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

  20. identicon
    Ban, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 11:13pm

    Awareness Technologies

    A company I used to work for, Awareness Technologies sold a product called WebWatcher. They do this religiously. The owner is the cheapest bastard around. They're so money hungry and greedy it's not even funny. They'll sell something and say it's free for a lifetime on chat or over the phone, then a year later, they'll tell you that you have to pay for upgrades, etc. They'll also say, "oh we never said that, do you have it in writing?" And of course, the customer won't.

    I agree wholeheartedly that this is a terrible method in earning a customer's loyalty.

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

  21. identicon
    R. Miles, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 3:54am

    Renting another form of piracy.

    I couldn't begin to tell you the last time I rented a movie. The price to rent, in my opinion, is true piracy.

    As some of you are aware, I don't purchase movies, either. And before you bitch, no, I don't torrent them.

    I'm boycotting the entire industry and to do so, I simply do without.

    I often wonder why those who attack the industry continue to support it. No offense, but you should just shut the hell up.

    If a DVD doesn't have them, I'm a lot less likely to rent the film...
    This isn't true at all, as there was a time when DVDs didn't have features. No, you and others will continue to fuel the problem with cash while the industry continues dictating what you can, and cannot do, with the entertainment.

    Funny how hypocrisy shows itself.

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

  22. identicon
    Mr. A, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    Microsoft Publisher

    Microsoft has done this in their latest release of project. Taking away the ability to save items as HTML. This is an attempt to get companies to "invest" in their collaborative tools.

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

  23. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 16th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    Resale Value?

    I am surprised nobody directly stated that some movie rental places sell their extra copies of movies once they are no longer such new releases. You know this would really hurt the price that the movie rental stores could get people to pay for the DVDs. Why aren't they speaking out against it?

    @zcat #4
    This is why I make a copy of every movie I own. I remove all of the stupid previews and anti-piracy crap. It is completely not needed on the DVD. This also prolongs the lifespan of my original discs as they stay safely in their original cases.

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

  24. identicon
    Seth, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 7:04am

    Will They Sell Cheaper Copies?

    It would be nice if they started selling cheaper copies without all the extras. Give me just the movie for a few bucks and I'll start buying more movies.

    One thing I think hurts DVD sales is the fact that the longer you wait, the more likely it is that there will be a new version with more "bonus" features.

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

  25. identicon
    ubersurfer, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    I've not read all the above posts, so excuse me if I'm repeating someone. Wouldn't this matter depend on the content of the feature film?

    A movie based on actual events, for example, may have extra features showing the real participants, real locations and in-depth interviews with historians and researchers of the film's subject matter. To me, that's value added, and something I look forward to viewing.

    Would the absence of such extras on a rental induce me to purchase the DVD? Certainly, providing I know the extras exist and that they contain information worth keeping. Unless the rental specifically tells me what I'm missing, how would I know to look at a retail version?

    I have purchased DVDs of bad movies with good extras. If all that was on the rental was the bad movie, I would have stopped at the rental.

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

  26. icon
    Mark Rosedale (profile), Mar 16th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    DVD Extras?

    I have to admit I just don't buy DVD's and very rarely view the extras. I usually just want to watch the DVD, return the movie, and that is it. I own less than 10 DVD's. Now if it was a funny movie and they have a gag reel or something I might watch, but generally don't poor over extras. I understand the people that do I just don't. So this move won't really be noticed by me. I mean I might see that there aren't any extras, but it won't bother me.

    My question is if the extras aren't there does that mean we don't get the previews? Cause that would be just plain awesome. Most DVD's put that in the extras so my logic stands extras=no previews.

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

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Kill previously viewed sales

    While I don't think this would necessarily kill rentals I do think that it will kill the market for previously viewed movies. If I am looking at purchasing a movie when blockbuster is trying to unload the 200 extra copies of the latest summer movies I am not going to buy it from them if I know it is missing content.

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

  28. identicon
    nasch, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    Re: One thing they COULD remove

    You can remove them yourself. If you would be willing to spend that much money to get rid of them, you can spend a lot less money and a little time instead, with programs like DVD Shrink (not certain it will remove them but I think so), DVD Fab (definitely removes them, I haven't used this one for copying), and ImgBurn.

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

  29. identicon
    George Ortiz, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 8:27am

    Re: Awareness Technologies

    Hey Ban, I am looking for a way to disable the AT client software do you know how?

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

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