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Chronicle: Yes baby boomers, the DVD celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. This Carlsbad writer can help you celebrate

By on April 22, 2022 0

The acronym “DVD” originally stood for “Digital Versatile Disc”. The first DVD to ship over a million units was “Titanic”. And when Disney released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” on DVD in October 2001, it sold 1 million copies. In one day.

These are just some of the fun facts Carlsbad-based journalist Thomas K. Arnold uncovered for the two-part 25th anniversary DVD series he wrote for the March and April editions of Media Play Newsa publication dedicated to the home entertainment industry.

But the most amazing thing about the show isn’t the reminder that when Netflix founders Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph offered to sell the company to Blockbuster for $50 million, Blockbuster turned them down. It’s the fact that in this age of endless streaming entertainment, DVD is still around and still worth celebrating.

“The link must be established. DVDs have shaped our current entertainment habits. Seventy-eight percent of all money spent on home entertainment is spent on streaming, and streaming wouldn’t have happened without DVD,” said Arnold, publisher and editor of Media Play News. .

“DVD is not about to be dead. It’s still a big deal. »

There is no doubt that DVDs do not dominate the home entertainment landscape as they did, for example, in the year 2000, when DVD players were present in 13 million homes, consumers bought over 182 million records and “Gladiator” and “X-Men” had first-week DVD sales of $60 million. Each.

According to the Digital Entertainment Group, DVD sales (including Blu-ray and other formats) fell 19.5% in 2021, to nearly $2 billion in sales. Meanwhile, Grand View Research reported that in 2020, the global streaming market was valued at $50 billion.

But for an item roughly the size of a coaster, the 25-year-old DVD has had a huge impact on how we entertain ourselves right now.

Arnold began covering the home entertainment industry when he joined Video Store Magazine in 1991, which gave him a front row (reclining) seat for the DVD revolution. And while that might be hard for streaming-addicted viewers to imagine, his series reminds us that a revolution is exactly what it used to be.

Before Warner Home Video President Warren Lieberfarb spearheaded the development of a CD-inspired video disc to distribute movies, our home entertainment lives were ruled by clunky VHS tapes, bulky VHS players and rules. picky for video libraries. The quality wasn’t great, the format wasn’t user-friendly, and late fees were a pain.

Have you thought about going back? Does anyone have?

When DVD players were rolled out at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 1997, home viewing was about to change seismically. Scanned images were sharper and sound richer. Discs were smaller and easier to store. Cheaper too.

And to entice consumers to buy the records instead of renting them, studios began adding deleted scenes, bloopers, and other extras.

DVD has helped make us the masters of our entertainment universe. We watched what we wanted to watch, when we wanted to watch it, as many times as we wanted to watch it. We bought bigger and bigger screens and invested in better sound systems. And the studios were more than happy to give us more of this thing on demand.

Speaking of demand, Arnold’s story recounts the origins of Netflix, which began because Hastings allegedly had to spend $40 in late fees at a video store for a late copy of “Apollo 13.” Netflix began renting movies to customers by mail in 1998, including a postage-paid return envelope. (According to Business Insider, Netflix sent DVDs to around 2 million people in 2019.)

“DVD has moved everyone from renting to buying. When studios realized that consumers were buying everything, it drove them to digitize their libraries. And that enabled streaming,” Arnold said. “You could never rent videocassettes by mail. They were too big, bulky and heavy. Keep in mind that for 10 years Netflix only rented records by mail. DVD kickstarted all digital entertainment.

These little records also introduced us to the bottomless rabbit hole that is binge-watching.

When studios started putting entire seasons of TV shows on DVD, you could appear in an episode of “Friends” and not leave your couch for an entire weekend. Long before we rushed to “Bridgerton,” the DVD craze had us addicted to all-consuming television in one gluttonous sip.

“At one point in 2001, TV shows on DVD accounted for $4 billion in consumer spending,” Arnold said. “I remember a good friend of mine telling his family he had to work while they were going on vacation, and he stayed home and watched all six seasons of ‘The Sopranos.’ I think it paved the way for people to sit down and watch multiple seasons in one session, which laid the groundwork for streaming.

Since Media Play News covers all aspects of home entertainment, Arnold is fully immersed in the comforting conveniences of streaming. But when he notices everyone in his house is glued to a different screen, each person in their own separate room having their own solitary experience, he knows convenience comes with caveats.

And as a pop culture fan who started posting Kicks: San Diego’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine in 1979, while still a student at San Diego State, Arnold is still a fan of the in-person community experience. The DVD gave us that too.

The record itself may be celebrating its silver anniversary, but that experience of turning on the living room TV and sharing a new movie or TV show with the other fans in your life? This is pure entertainment gold.

“A lot of things generate buzz, but with streaming it’s more of an individual experience now. And it never lasts long,” Arnold said. next is ‘The Mandalorian’. And then it’s over. »