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Things I Hate About TV: DVD release dates

by Brett Love, posted Jul 17th 2008 11:43AM

Chuck on DVDNo, it's not another lamentation about those overlooked shows that really do deserve a DVD set, but just can't seem to get them. I've grown accustomed to having Bob's weekly DVD release post arrive like a slap in the face as Beggars and Choosers is not on it, again. Instead, this is about those shows that do get their DVD set, but are late for no good reason at all. At least, not one that I can come up with.

I started thinking about it last week as I was talking with a friend and we were watching the Hellboy/Chuck promo. She commented that she really should start watching Chuck. In full agreement, I quickly pointed her to the Chuck page on Hulu. But wait, there are only three episodes available on Hulu. I guessed that it must be because they don't want streaming to cannibalize DVD sales. So I headed to Amazon. Chuck isn't out on DVD until September 16th. What the hell?

Where is the logic in that? Season two starts on September 29th. So, theoretically, if a new viewer did want to get caught up with the show they have 13 days in September to do it. Not unthinkable, but September does bring with it school, and the ramping up of other programming. Instead of, I don't know, all frickin' summer maybe?

The episodes are available from Amazon Unbox and iTunes, so why not DVD? I realize that there is some lead time for the creation of the DVDs, but man, how long ago did Chuck stop production? Those better be some crazy good extras.

Of course, Chuck isn't the only series getting that treatment. It's the one that made me think, "Damn, that's annoying." The one that got me to typing was Saving Grace. If you'll recall from Bob's post, season one came out this week, the day after the season two premiere. Good grief; is it really so unthinkable that having the show available during the hiatus might be good exposure?

The only reason I can think of for the ridiculous delay is that they want to take advantage of the promotion for the new season to get people interested in the DVD. Frankly, I don't buy that idea. The set can be available for the entirety of the hiatus and still be plugged with the premiere press.

Heck, if the studios want to be greedy, I'd even prefer the old double release gambit to this current system. You know the one, release the no frills package first, then the super-duper chromium cover with the bonus disk later. As much as that annoys me, it's preferable.

Is it just me? Am I completely off my nut thinking that the summer, when things are slow, might be a good time to be in the Chuck DVD business? Maybe the DVD creation process should kick off when production begins so June and July become the big DVD months. And once again, I want my Beggars and Choosers DVD.

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It's so annoying, the games they play...

July 22 2008 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Bowie

I think the retail of DVDs in the US is largely screwed up. By selling the boxsets of last season a matter of days before the new season starts you have no chance of using the boxset as device to bring in new viewers.

DVD boxsets surely serve two audiences:

1. Those people who love the show and watch it again and again, ad-free and without bugs, captions and other on-screen garbage.

2. People who perhaps missed a series, particularly those with an on-going storyline that made it harder to jump into the series mid-season.

The first group wants to get hold of the boxset as soon as possible because they love the show and want to own it.

The second group wants to get holf of the boxset as soon as possible too, because they've heard good things about the series and would now like to see it for themselves.

As others have said, waiting for the new season to start really doesn't make sense. Even from a marketing perspective, there are loads of other boxsets all coming out around the same time as all the other series return. Having them come out spread over the summer would at least mean that you're not fighting too much for shelf space etc.

Aside from sometimes needing some time to put together extras after the event, there's no real reason to delay at all. And in any case, a smart production is surely thinking about what goes onto the DVD while the series is in production. For example, both Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who have commentaries available to download the same week as the new episodes air. It's a simple task to pop these onto their respective DVD boxsets.

In the UK, it's normally a question of getting the DVDs into the shops as soon as possible so you can still use the heat of the show to drive sales. Miss the season finale of Lost? Rush out and buy the full season boxset (of course, you can't get the latest season of Lost yet in the UK because we get episodes at the same time as the US). Series that are on pay-tv channels like 24 or Prison Break, are in stores the Monday after the final episode has aired to a large extent, even if that means missing extras that US discs will eventually get.

Indeed for British productions, DVDs are sometimes available in store *before* the final episode has aired - so if you're dying to see the final episode in a mini-series as soon as possible you can buy it on a Monday rather than wait until Thursday to see it on air.

July 18 2008 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm so glad that someone has made light of this FINALLY. I never understood it, how can they expect to get more viewers if they don't allow people to watch an entire season before the next season starts. What ends up happening is that you don't end up watching the next season until you finish the one that just came out on dvd.

Guess we should be happy that some shows get DVD's -- I'm still hoping that The CW will release REAPER on dvd -- anyone else agree?

July 17 2008 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good post Brett. Sadly, you are preaching to the choir my friend. :-(

July 17 2008 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate how they wait to release the DVDs. They even do that for shows like LOST, 24, and The Shield which have extended hiatuses so that makes me pretty certain that capitalizing on the new season is pretty much the only reason.

July 17 2008 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What I find even more annoying than that is that How I Met Your Mother doesn't come to DVD until OCTOBER. I don't understand that one bit. It came out in October last year, also. This year, The Big Bang Theory comes out in early September like most, but HIMYM does not. It's such a great show and I *know* it would gain more viewers if it was released on DVD earlier.

July 17 2008 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe stalin

Theres virtually nothing to watch in the summer and i'm more than willy to check out some shows I missed on DVD. If I like it I would tune in to the next season. Chuck is the perfect example. I've heard good things, I'd like to give it a try but whats the point of rushing through a season in september when all the new shows are premiering and theres all the back-to-school work.
Its a stupid setup and they're just costing themselves money. Lots of it!

July 17 2008 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Blair M

If you think that's messed up think again; season 4 of Lost doesn't come out until December.

July 17 2008 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Blair M's comment

Yes, but at least you can still watch all 4 seasons in HD on ABC's website. Free + HD will always beat a DVD for me. The price for a full season DVD set just isn't justifiable.

July 17 2008 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Brennan-White

I actually pieced together enough of the Chuck episodes by jumping from bouncing from Hulu (where they had more episodes at one point) to NBC.com and then finally broke down and bought the last 3 episodes from Unbox.

It is a really stupid way of doing business if they want to build up interest in a show like Chuck.

July 17 2008 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just download them from torrents

July 17 2008 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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