CHATSWORTH, Calif. - When I was a young masturbator, there was no such thing as digital distribution - no sir. I had to walk through 40 miles of snow just to rent the latest volume of Elegant Angel’s Big Wet Asses from my local video store. But, today, porn lovers have it easy. In addition to accessing adult content from the comfort of their home through digital delivery systems like VOD, they can now download and burn new adult releases to DVD on the same day those titles arrive in stores.
CinemaNow, a mainstream digital distribution company, pioneered the “day-and-date” program in September of last year when it offered a burn-to-DVD version of The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift on the same date the title was made available for purchase in retail stores. Earlier this year, CinemaNow applied the program to the adult market by partnering up its adult arm, All Adult Channel, with Vivid Entertainment Group, to release Kim Kardashian Superstar, as the first adult “day-and-date” burnable new release.
Since May, All Adult Channel has offered its users day-and-date exclusives on a weekly basis from such studios as Vivid and Elegant Angel. Depending on your Internet connection, titles can take as little as one or two hours to burn onto DVD and include such bonus material as photo galleries, full motion menus and behind-the-scenes features.
“My first reaction is to feel upset with the studios for doing this, but I think too often retailers have a sense of entitlement with issues like these,” said Nate Glass, buyer for the Dreamers Video chain in Texas. “It’s totally acceptable for the studios to look at alternative revenue streams. The customer buying online and the customer shopping in our stores are two separate customers. If VOD and Burn-to-Own customers were the same as DVD customers, then the drop in DVD sales would be tempered by a similar increase in VOD and burn-to-own sales. However, they must be different customers because the drop in DVD sales is dwarfing the increase in Burning and VOD.”
“Right now the Internet is thriving as a brand new market place. It’s attracting customers that wouldn’t ordinarily gravitate towards the porn DVD store,” echoed Graham Travis, general manager for Elegant Angel. “Even though the market has been declining, our DVD sales have increased dramatically in conjunction with our efforts in VOD, online retail and download-to-burn on All Adult Channel and our membership Websites. It hasn’t in any way affected our continued growth on DVD. I do really feel that while inevitably [burn to DVD] is going to have some effect on retail, the effect for now is overstated.”
Alison, owner of adult store Taboo in Richmond, Virginia isn’t worried about digital distribution just yet. “It’s obviously not good for retailers,” explained Miller, “but I don’t see it making a huge impact in our sales, at least not yet.”
Miller, however, has implemented a program of her own to promote repeat business. “My store has a used DVD trade-in policy that encourages some customers to purchase the whole package; they can’t trade in a movie without its original case. In the long run, I think the Internet is an adult retailer’s biggest threat, but I don’t see a big change occurring overnight.”
“We never sit on our hands and blame the Internet,” added Glass. “It’s a tough market now, but if you aren’t ready to do some real work and be receptive to change, then the Internet, VOD and burn-to-own will eat your lunch.”
“Right now it’s more of a techy novelty type of a thing,” said Lawrence Novitch, director of marketing and merchandising for All Adult Channel.
“We’re in the early stages. We’re the early adapters. Digital distribution is going to be the way of the future.”
“The one thing that’s hurting the market right now is not the new ways that people are approaching the Internet and the new markets that are opening up, but the way they treat the DVD market,” noted Travis. “A lot of studios treat the DVD market with disrespect by flooding it with titles and releasing excessive amounts of compilations. What hurt the DVD market is the way it’s been oversaturated.”
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Pictured: Nate Glass.