After taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, we return with part two of our four-part series on selling video. You can catch up on Part 1 here if you missed it. When you're selling video online, there are really only two main options: physical media or digital? Today we're going to look at physical media, examining the pros and cons and discovering the reasons some businesses and individuals choose to go the physical route.
Selling Video Online – Physical Media
Let's examine some of the positives involved when you decide to sell your video in the form of physical media–and for the sake of discussion, we're going to assume most physical media video being sold these days is in the DVD format.
Pros Of Physical Media
Probably the biggest reason you'll hear from businesses that sell their video in DVD form is that their customers are used to it that way. And there is, indeed, a huge portion of the population that is more comfortable with buying and owning a physical, tactile product. It's tempting to blame it all on generational differences, and certainly that's part of it. But there are other factors at play too.
Like economics. For the tech-savvy crowd, it's sometimes too easy to forget that even in the U.S. there are massive patches of population with significantly slower Internet connections than we might have. And downloading a purchased video may be too much of a hassle.
The marketplace is familiar with DVDs. We know what they can do and what to do with them once we get them. For a great many consumers, digital media is still an uncharted water.
If a company has been selling DVDs for years, and suddenly decides to switch over to digital media, there's typically going to be some cost associated with the changeover. There are costs in setting up a web presence or video store, hosting charges, personnel training costs, etc. Sometimes that changeover cost is too daunting a number for a business, and they may decide to put off the transition, even if it ends up costing them more down the road.
It's kind of like renting an HD television because you can't afford one all in one lump sum. It may be a more costly decision ultimately, but in the short term, it's maybe the only one you can afford.
I think a lot of businesses selling DVDs think digital video hosting and sales is more expensive than it really is. And that's because it used to be a lot more expensive. But there are a lot of options for companies these days–a lot. And the competition, combined with advancements in technology, has made digital video sales a lot more wallet-friendly. That doesn't meant he perception has changed, though, and many business owners likely just assume the cost is too high.
Still Dominant Format?
In many ways, DVD is still the dominant format, at least in the U.S. When Wal-Mart and Best Buy stop selling DVDs and Blu-Ray discs… when Hollywood stops putting them out in that format… that'll probably be a really good sign that the public has moved away from physical media. There's very clearly still a huge demand for it, which is why the biggest fish in the "selling video" pond are still making it their format of choice.
But lookout… here comes UltraViolet, Hollywood's grand new digital media endeavor. Which should maybe serve as a flashing red beacon to businesses everywhere that digital video is stepping into the spotlight.
Cons Of Physical Media
Now let's try and be fair and balanced by taking a look at some of the negatives of selling video with physical media:
Far and away the biggest negative of physical media is that it's… well… physical. It has to get from point A to point B. Typically this is done either in an in-person transaction, like buying a DVD in a retail store, or the product is shipped via the US Post Office, UPS, FedEx, or any number of smaller shipping companies.
And that creates two very important costs: time and money. You have to pay to ship the product, not to mention the arrangements you have to make for pick-up and delivery, etc. And shipping takes time, usually several days (unless you want to pay even more money). This is bad for businesses and customers. Desire for a product is typically pretty high at the moment of purchase, and even a two-day waiting period for delivery can seem excruciating.
Another unfortunate side effect of physical media's physical-ness is that it takes up space. It's got to go somewhere and be stored there. As this relatively new homeowner can attest, it doesn't take long for piles of physical stuff to add up. Space is often a premium.
Businesses selling DVDs or Blu-Ray discs often have to consider storage–where will the yet-unsold copies sit until they are purchased?
Unnecessary Repeat Costs
This "con" is mostly philosophical, but also has some real-world implications: when you sell DVDs, you're paying to print every single one. When you sell out, you pay to have another run produced. however, when you sell digital media, you might incur some costs related to hosting or bandwidth, but you can't ever sell out… you'll never have to pay to print a second run.
And when you consider that you probably have to pay someone to monitor physical inventory, call the production company to order more when supplies get low, inspect the product when it arrives, etc… there can be real-world cost-savings by ditching physical media.
The video marketplace is obviously going digital–hope I'm not shocking anyone there with that statement. But until that transition is complete, a lot of businesses are choosing to stick with physical media for as long as it's profitable. Which is a valid choice.
But those businesses risk missing out on a large and growing group of tech-savvy folks (like most of you reading this article) who at this point prefer digital media to physical. For example: I can't tell you the last time I bought a DVD… as a consumer. It must have been months and months ago. Because I know things are going digital, and UltraViolet is a huge first step in that direction, and it's hard for me personally to keep spending money on a technology that is approaching its demise. And I'm sure there are others who feel the same way. It's what happened with music and MP3s, and there's no reason to think it's not happening with video as well.
It's hard to draw firm conclusions, considering that every business has their own unique situation, their own budget and capabilities, and their own goals. I'm willing to say this much: physical media is still a viable means of selling video… for now. The tides are turning, but there's no way to know when they'll turn completely and the public makes a shift.
In the meantime, there are already plenty of reasons to consider digital media for selling your video online, and we'll look at that in Part 3 next week.
The above pros and cons aren't comprehensive–it's not a complete list by any means. What about you? What reasons do you see (or have) for choosing physical media for selling video online? What pros and cons did I leave out that are worth considering?