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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Video's, DVD's, and Renting, Region Coding

Hollywood Video declared bankruptcy today. This article from CNET claims that Netflix killed it. No, the truth is movie studios selling new release DVD/Video's through Costco, Bestbuy for under $20. Under $20 it becomes a spontaneous purchasing decision. And now you have movies at WaMart for under $10! And Hollywood Video and Blockbuster wanted to charge $5! Even if I only wanted it for 1 night, I still had to pay the $5 which allowed for 3 nights. I have been surprised/shocked/scared as a retailer and delighted as a consumer on the drop in video pricing.

So how does this apply to Chinese Children related movies. Unfortunately the movie studios to keep their prices and margins high as part of the DVD standard required DVD regionally encoding. So that cheap DVD you bought in China theoretically will not work in the US, because of the differences in region coding. It's even part of the DMCA, so you are not supposed to be able to buy DVD players in the US that are regionless (hint, check any Chinese, Korean, etc. video rental or electronics retailer if you need one. Their are also hacks on the Internet for the techies). Of course Hollywood being the wonderful people they are have updated the coding on some Region 1 DVD so they don't play on regionless DVD players. And older DVD players won't play these newer disks, which is why I had to update my DVD player because new movies would not play on it. And then the new one just broke! One of those days.

As a reseller I find this annoying because if you want to legitimately resell name brand kids Video's in Chinese in the US - tough from what I can tell. VCD's are another option that are still being produced and don't have region coding. Or if you get lucky, some Chinese DVD's I have heard are made so they play in all regions. This is an area I am still investigating because in the past ChildBook did sell video's on VHS that could play in the US from Taiwan. With the change to DVD's (and regional encoding), this was no longer feasible. And if wonder what the rest of the world does outside the US, most people have regionless DVD players. This way they can order video's from the US at a lower price than for example in Europe, and play them. Last time I was in London I was surprised by how much DVD's were (and this was when the dollar was much stronger). Another challenge when you are importing from China is making sure it's legitimate.

I went into one video reseller in Monterey Park that had a name brand DVD children's cartoon, and it had some yahoo address as the manufacturer contact. Amazing, but true.



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