DVDs rentals outstrip VHS tapes

Earlier this month, for the first time ever, consumers rented more DVDs than VHS cassettes, according to the Video Software Dealers Association, a nonprofit entertainment trade association.

According to the association, consumers rented 28.2 million DVDs compared to 27.3 million VHS cassettes during the week ended June 15.

It is the latest milestone for the digital video disk (DVD) video format, which was first introduced six years ago. According to the association’s figures, DVD year-to-date rental revenue surpassed VHS rental revenue for the first time in May.

Sean Bersell, a spokesman for the association, said several factors caused the format’s popularity in the rental stores.

DVD technology was quickly embraced by consumers, he said. Consumers also were attracted to DVDs’ special features, picture and sound quality, and low prices. The DVD format also is easier to use than VHS tapes.

“The DVD is superior technology,” Bersell said. “The consumer has recognized that and embraced that enthusiastically. We see that reflected in the rental market.”

Brian Lucas, a spokesman for Richfield-based Best Buy, Inc., said the company’s stores carry more types of DVD players than VCRs.

Prices for DVD players, along with other home theatre products such as surround sound speakers, have decreased.

He said the mainstream has embraced the technology quickly after movie studios and consumer electronic retailers began to stand behind it.

“The quality of technology got people in the door,” he said. “Then [with] the number of titles that came out, people knew it was a technology that was here to stay.”

Brett Sharbono, owner of Mike’s Movies, an independent movie rental store in Minneapolis, said although most of his selection is in the VHS format, the presence of DVDs is increasing.

Seven of his top 10 rentals for the last week are on DVD, he said.

Sharbono said it’s much cheaper for him to buy a DVD of recent studio release than a VHS tape. Also, people can view DVDs on a DVD-ROM in a computer or on the PlayStation 2 video game console.

“It’s getting to where I’m buying less VHS and more DVD,” he said.

Because of the increasing demand for DVDs, he has started ordering old titles in DVD format as well as rearranging his store to allow more space for DVDs, Sharbono said.

But retailers said the popularity of DVDs doesn’t mean the immediate death of VHS tapes.

“There are still people who want VHS tapes, so we’re still carrying them,” Lucas said. “Demand is going down, but there is still some.”

Sharbono said his customers probably will still rent VHS cassettes in 10 years, especially when the bigger video chains begin to get rid of its VHS movies.

Luke Carlson, of Minneapolis, said he has stopped buying VHS tapes, because he wanted to build up his DVD collection. He said he likes the DVD special features such as commentaries, bloopers and behind the scenes stories that DVDs offer.

But he still rents movies in both formats. He has a VCR in one room and a DVD in another, so he will rent a VHS tape if he wants to watch a movie in the VCR room.

“I think as long as we have VCRs, we’ll still rent VHS tapes,” he said.

Source: Star Tribune

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