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Obscure DVDs – Where’s “The Long Tail”?

Today’s New York Times has an article on how obscure DVDs have a precarious future in a world dominated by big box stores. I find it a little disconcerting, because one of the great things about the DVD market is how it made obscure international and older films available.

What’s missing from this article, though, is any discussion of online retailers or Netflix, which I find bizarre, as The Long Tail is predicated on how the infinite shelf space of online stores means there’s a market (though possibly a very very small one) for anything. Are Amazon and Netflix unable to provide enough of a market for these DVD distributors? Or is something else going on here?

  1. I have never found video stores to be a satisfactory source for non-mainstream (not obscure-what a limiting and negative term) films. Not even Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon or the other online sources stock many of the interesting, even great and recognized film classics of my searchings.

    I won’t bother to list titles, but MY MOVIES at IMDB usually contains about 50 movies in my MUST SEE category, only a very small number of which could be considered obscure, many of them marked as reproduced on tape or DVD, but not one of them available for rent or purchase at any outlet whether chain, large, local or online that I can find.

    Of course, we take for granted whatever benefits we receive from the movie aftermarket venues and complain about their limitations. As well we should, we are only human.

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  • Tech and Science News Updates! » Blog Archive » Are Independent DVDs Running Into Trouble? Where Did Netflix And Amazon Go? March 5, 2007

    […] However, as you read through the article, there should be something clawing at the back of your brain, not fully making sense — and, certainly, a few people noticed it. The article doesn’t mention things like Netflix or Amazon at all. The crowd of folks who tend to like these more independent films are also the type of folks more likely to know about Netflix and Amazon — and, you would actually think that this would help, not hurt, the independent movie distributors. After all, they can now send those movies to a single source who can market nationally (or, in some cases, internationally) to a very interested target audience, without having to establish relationships with each and every local retailer. More importantly, a big part of the benefit of both Netflix and Amazon is that they help cut through that glut in supply to better recommend what you might want to see. If anything, they should be talked about as helping build the independent DVD distribution market. You would think that the NY Times would look to explain why this isn’t so (if it isn’t so), but the article doesn’t even mention it. If it’s true that sites like Netflix and Amazon aren’t helping the sale of independent videos that would completely go against the concept of “The Long Tail,” which would make a very interesting case study to examine — but without further information, it’s tough to figure out what’s happening here. […]