Death of the DVD: Thoughts from New Day Films' Jeff Tamblyn

Posted on September 4, 2012

ITVS's Rebecca Huval discusses research, news, and trends that come out of ITVS’s IndiesLab.


The verdict is in: Filmmakers can expect to profit from DVD sales for only two more years. At least that’s what Jeff Tamblyn, Director of Digital Delivery at New Day, is wagering. “We should start a pot at New Day, a betting pool,” Tamblyn joked. “I’d be really surprised if the DVD market was 25 percent of what it is now in two years. I think the shift to streaming is going to be sudden and immediate.” Statistics are also sounding the death knell: DVD sales plummeted 20 percent in 2011 to $6.8 billion, while digital sales such as streaming rose 50 percent to $3.4 billion, according to USA Today. Blu-ray disc sales rose 19 percent, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the DVD’s slide. In 2012, more movies will be viewed online than in all formats combined, according to The Degree360.

That’s why New Day Films has built up its streaming business since it launched in 2007. With the help of a community college TV station, they have streamlined the licensing process so that filmmakers can easily set their own prices and court the educational market. Filmmakers tend to sell their online streams for $100-150 more than their educational DVDs because students can access those online streams without going to the library. Still, “colleges are probably slower to stop buying DVDs because they like to have something in the archives, and that’s part of what libraries are for: to be a repository,” Tamblyn said. “It’s also possible that the market for DVDs will shift radically very soon, and the libraries will say ‘I want to buy a stream with a back-up DVD, and it will sit on a shelf and no one will use it. But maybe if the internet’s down one day.’” 

Streaming hasn’t completely caught up to the sophistication of DVDs, Tamblyn admits. Netflix doesn’t include many of the extras that come packaged with DVDs, and some viewers are still attached to their director’s commentaries and cuts. That could keep the DVD limping along a bit longer. With the help of kiosks such as Redbox, DVDs could stay even stronger. Rentals of physical discs, including Blu-ray, from kiosks, retailers, and Netflix Movies by Mail made up 62 percent of movie rentals in the first half of 2012, according to the NPD Group. Not to mention certain cultural trends. “There’s a retro thing going on” Tamblyn added. “My son likes collecting vinyls, and I think he enjoys having things that aren’t digital, they’re analog. There are people who like that linkage...Those analog discs have a cachet he likes, and I think that will be true for DVDs. Having said that, I think DVDs are going to be a much smaller part of the market in the future.”


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