Time to set a standard for costs of movies to buy/rent in the UK…

Tiered pricing

Tiered pricing

I think I have finally reached the end of my tether, and can feel a serious rant coming on……

But what am I ranting about? Well, the inconsistency in the prices of movies to buy on-disk (and online) in the UK. It seems like for certain films, at certain times of the year, prices are dropped through the floor, compared to usual prices. I speak mainly about the price of things like DVDs and Blu-Ray, but also about the prices on download services.

What I suggest, in much the same way as the financial sector, is regulation – the fixing of costs for certain media. In essence this could be something like:

Blu-Ray to Buy: £15
DVD to Buy: £10
Film to Buy (digital): £7
Film to Rent (digital): £4
Film to Rent (DVD/Blu-Ray): £4

Why would something like this be a good idea? Well lots of reasons:

Firstly it would stop the erosion of pricing that seems to randomly occur on certain movies and during certain times of the year. If there was also a fixed-tier sale price that films could be discounted to (Blu-ray older film goes to say £7 for example), then that would account for when movies do get older and need to be discounted.

Secondly it would remove some of the confusion for consumers and introduce a clear price tier premium for “HD” movies – be they on Blue-Ray or other. Again, a tier could be introduced for an HD movie on any given format if it was believed to be appropriate

Thirdly, people would clearly know what they were going to pay for something based on how new the movie was, what format it was on, and how they wanted to view it (i.e. own/rent).

It would of course create a bit of an issue for the online retailers who often slash prices to drive business, but this tiering of prices would be for the benefit of the consumer. The current situation is that you can have some Blu-Ray movies which are incredibly expensive (£22+), some DVDs which seem to become cheap VERY quickly indeed, and then some online movies that are weighing in at say £11 to “own” – when in fact there is nothing physical to own!

My point ultimately is that if pricing was regulated, things would be a lot clearer for consumers – and the reason that this is important for Mobile is that there is a slow transition occurring for viewing movies on them. – both in the physical media aspect ( i.e. CDs/DVDs –> memory cards in devices) and also from an online aspect (i.e. internet download –> downloading ‘direct to handset’)

Sort out the pricing now with the existing media/delivery methods, and you should be set up for the future when everything going download and Mobile. That’s what I think anyway.

  • Andy Merrett

    It’s a nice theory, but I don’t see why anyone’s going to go for this any more that any other commodity. I really don’t get your comparison to the financial services sector, either, as last time I looked you could shop around for vastly different deals on the same product (mortgages, credit cards, bank accounts, loans…) and some banks (HSBC for example) even have “sales” now.

    Sure, HD media should have some kind of premium, and downloads should be less expensive as at present they’re of lower quality.

    However, retailers are always going to run promotions, loss leaders, etc. It’s how the free market operates. It’s why Amazon (US at least) runs huge promotions on Blu-ray discs – are you suggesting that this shouldn’t happen and every movie you buy on Blu-ray should always be, say, £15? As you’ve said, retailers love sales and offers, generally because there are plenty of consumers who snap them up. It might not seem fair just after you’ve bought a full-price DVD to see it discounted elsewhere, but that’s the chance you take with most products, from large to small.

  • Snidely

    Wow, you really have the socialism in your blood. Sure, let’s fix prices for everything! We’ll all be happy in our workers paradise! How would fixing prices benefit the consumer? If a consumer is too stupid to search for a better deal, they should pay the high price. If they are even remotely intelligent they can look online and find things cheaper. This competition is what drives innovation (new features for the same price) and cost efficiency (same good for a lower whoelsale price). Your economic model died out 20 years ago, comrade.

  • Dan Feather

    I’m afraid I have too agree with Andy Merrett. The standardisation of visual media on multiple formats would in theory be plausible with a consistent level of quality, demand and shelf life. I live in the UK and do enjoy browsing at retailers for a bargain. I often end up spending £30+ on multiple DVD’s, which I would have no intention of buying, if it were not for the fact that I could buy 5 or 6 (for example) DVD’s for the price of 2 full price new releases.

    The range of prices also maintains competition. If costs were standardised throughout (even just for new releases for example), main street media retailers would suffer a massive hit against the big guns of the retailing world such as Tesco, Wall-Mart, Asda etc etc. If I want to add a DVD to my collection for the sake of it, I want to go downtown to a retailer, not out of town a supermarket/Wall-Mart. The beauty of owning a DVD or Blu-Ray is being diluted by downloading and ease of access, but this doesn’t reduce the benefits of convenience which are clearly advantageous too. But personally, for some one who enjoys films and half of the enjoyment is owning it. From the browsing of HMV (or alternate reputable media retailer), absorbing the variety around me, purchasing films which I would even pick up and look at if it wasn’t for the £3 label on it (expanding my collection and broadening my own view on my interest in films) to having a collection which I can physically own and organise (at least 75%+ of readers here will have their own system in place I’m sure). And I just can’t see standardising the cost of films allowing for underdog productions to break through the standardised price barrier to hit the big screens on our own home. I wonder how many films the readers own, that are on their shelves, in their CD wallets or stacked genre by actor… that would not have made it off the store shelf if it were not for the bargain of the day price tag on it leading the you into the, “for £3??? Why the hell not” way of thinking. And how many of you out there reading this have a film in your mind, which was in a sale, was that bargain that made you buy it, which you surprisingly enjoyed and now sits happily amongst your archive of beloved films?

  • mdk

    I think there’s a much less verbose way of looking at it. Do people REALLY say ‘I believe I will shop for 5-7 dollars worth of entertainment tonight’, or do they say ‘I want to watch [insert movie title here]’?

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