Next season...

Remember back in the early days of VHS, we used to wait around for years... literally years... for some of our favorite movies to come out on those wonderful magnetic tapes that allowed us to play them back time after time from the comfort of our own home?

Of course, that wait time of "years," in many cases still never happened. There were some movies that never made it to VHS or never made it to copies that were sold to the general public and the only way to get them was if you owned a video rental store.

Of course you could never find TV shows on VHS. Well, not until very late in the lifespan of VHS, that is. A season set of TV shows would span 8-12 tapes. And justifying the cost of that as well as the shelf space was pretty difficult.

Then DVD happened; followed by BluRay Disc (BD). These wonderful little optical discs took up little to no shelf space comparatively speaking. And studios somehow managed to find a way to turnaround movies so that you can now purchase a movie on DVD and BD mere months after it's in the theaters.

Mere months!

Compared to the years it took for movies and the like to be released on VHS, you'd think I would have nothing to complain about.

You would also be wrong.

My beef is with the release of TV shows on DVD/BD. Why do studios wait so long to put TV shows out on disc? This is something that is really upsetting to me.

Lemme lay it out for ya...

Most network TV shows run from September to May, give or take a few weeks. This does not include summer shows or shows that are on extended or premium cable channels like TNT, TBS, HBO, etc. So anyway, the DVD/BD sets don't wind up seeing the light of day until right around the start of their next season.

This is really piss-poor planning if executives want to lure in people that have never before watched a show and would like to jump on board but only after watching all the previous seasons. I do this a lot. I'm currently doing this with Sons of Anarchy and thought that I was going to be all caught up after watching season 4 just in time for the start of what I believed was season 5 on September 10.

Nope. Turns out season 5 aired in late 2012; its season running from September 11 until sometime in December. And the DVD set for season 5? It's planned for release on September 10, the same day season 6 will premiere. Oh, and lest I forget to point out that in their mad dash for cash, the studios want to push sales before rentals so I cannot watch via Netflix until about November.

Currently, my options are:

  • I pay for the entire season on iTunes, which will cost me $22 for standard definition or $32 for HD copies. And I don't really see myself watching it beyond once.
  • I record all of season 6 and worry about the capacity of my DVR nearing 100% while I watch season 5 when it finally becomes available to me.
  • I pray I can still find it on On-Demand (I found three later-season episodes and have set them to record, but I have no idea if the rest will re-air prior to September 10).
  • I play naughty little web pirate... an option that holds no appeal to me whatsoever.

I know, I know, total first-world problem here. But isn't it just logical that studios try to release shows as soon as humanly possible on DVD so that people can watch them well in advance of the upcoming season? Shows are usually done being taped anywhere from a month to two in advance of the end of a season. There's no reason that a network show cannot be released in early to mid summer.

And extended cable shows like Sons of Anarchy have even less of an excuse. Their season ends in December and you're gonna try to tell me that it takes them nine months to prep the release of 13 episodes on physical disc? Seriously? I'm looking at you as well, Game of Thrones. Your season 3 sets (all 10 episodes worth) should be out next month. No excuses.

Studios wonder why piracy runs rampant. You force the fans' hands, man. Try being a fan for once, and not a suit. Think like us.

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Gary LaPointe

I agree. They also need to make it cheaper! Either (or both) some cheaper options for renting a TV show or significantly cheaper for PRE-purchasing a season. If I'm willing to prepay I want a much better deal, or let me rent for 99 cents.

I'll even take prepaying for a season of rentals: Give me a GREAT price, I've got weeks to watch the show, but once I start an episode after 24 hours (I'd prefer 72 hours) it's gone. Or maybe they're gone 5 weeks after they aired (or 5 weeks after the season ends!).

FYI, The BBC does some weird stuff with their shows in the UK (at least in the recent past they have). When Doctor Who is on, every 2 (or 3) weeks they release a DVD with the previous few episodes on them (or was that the Sarah Jane Adventures? [which is a DW spinoff] or both?). Even this last season of Doctor Who they were to be released right after the season ended, they accidentally shipped some early (a few hundred?) and asked people not to reveal the end.

If I could rent every episode of the shows I wanted to watch for 99 cents. TV execs would really see what people want to watch. THe problem is that doesn't address all the advertising issues.

I'm not sure what problems this would be for people who just leave the TV on all day, those are shows with advertising that gets counted as watched (I guess?). If I'm not watching it, the TV isn't on at my house.

Or better yet, don't charge me anything, let me tell you all my personal details and you give me advertising that's super super relevant to me.

Something IS going to have happen eventually, right?!?

Another thought: Shows might even cost different prices: Cheaper shows are 25 cents (Jeopardy) while something which costs more to produce and has limited viewer (Firefly) might cost more. If we talk about shows more and they get more viewers, costs go down!


I agree to a degree. I like the tiered pricing but think shows with high production cost and low viewership should still charge less in order to drive up their fan base. I'm not likely to pay high costs for a relatively unknown show I've never seen just because it's got high production costs. BBC is weird, I agree. I don't like their DVD an episode pricing at all. Checked out the cost of Sherlock? $7 per episode on iTunes and DVDs are nearly $40 for a three episode season. WTF?!?!


I've gotten to the point where if I don't find a show available on Hulu or Netflix, I just forget about it and don't watch it anymore. I refuse to pay more money (i.e. even on iTunes and Amazon Prime). They want to keep us hooked? Then they need to make their shows more widely available.

I've also found a number of people in our age group have been dropping cable tv more and more and sticking only with the internet (plus HD antenna where you can get NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS for free!). It's getting to the point where cable companies need to rethink not only their prices, but more than likely other avenues of getting their shows to us. Because if they just try to keep charging money or make it exclusive? I really see people dropping off and saying "no thanks."

A lot of us have way more important bills to pay.

P.S. Don't pay the iTunes price! That's ridiculous!


I don't want to pay iTunes. I agree it's ridiculous especially for a one-time viewing. I'd love to drop cable but I'm not sure I have the patience for webTV and the antenna although it sounds awesome. Katie's mom provides daycare once a week at our place and I don't want her to have to figure out how to use this new multifaceted, multi-provider system either. 


I did the fill-the-DVR-while-I-catch-up-with-DVDs-via-Netflix once, for Alias. Hulu+ has helped a lot as it often replaces the DVR. Since I don't have cable, I don't have the problem for non-broadcast shows and I simply wait for the season to become available via Netflix DVD or streaming.

Apple had TV show rental for a short time. I think it was $1 per episode for SD and $2 for HD. I believe the content owners ended up deciding they didn't like that system and now you can only buy the episodes, usually $2 for SD and $3 for HD. I do this when we miss an episode of something and it isn't on Hulu+. There are shows I'd probably be willing to pay this price for, but only if they are available pretty promptly after airing.

True Blood, for example, started airing Season 6 in June, but the episodes aren't available on iTunes yet. What's more, the older episodes are $3 for SD and $4 for HD. Researching this has led me to discover that Season 5 became available on Netflix in May, so I guess it's time to reactivate the DVD shipping portion of my account.

Gary LaPointe

And the BBC charges outrageous prices for shows!! I've seen a few good deals for seasons on iTunes but not for physical media.


That would have to be one helluva deal. 


I was curious to know if DVD rentals via Netflix would happen sooner than a show becoming available on streaming. Good to know. Thanks!

Marty Mankins

Very well stated post on a topic that many of us are beefed up over. I've been collecting The Simpsons on DVD. Currently, there are seasons 1-15 and 20 on DVD. Season 16 through 19 are no where to be found on DVD (I'm not sure if iTunes has them or not, since I've not checked out there) and at the rate of how often they are producing a season on DVD, the show will be in perpetual reruns where I can just turn on any TV and see pretty much any episode I want (pseudo on demand).

This is why the pirated demand for show like Game of Thrones is so large. The method of media type is 10:1 digital and instant for many shows (or at least it appears to be) and people can lift the copy from their DVR and post it online because of the lag time to get the show to legal digital (iTunes) or on DVD.

Maybe if the studio execs get their dinosaur heads out of the sand and we can talk the copyright owners of the media from being so greedy, this will improve in the next few years (or sooner).


It would be great if they opened their eyes a bit. Alas.

I had no idea those seasons of The Simpsons were missing. I stopped collecting the DVDs around season 5 when they switched from flat packages to those stupid 3D head cases (heh). 

Marty Mankins

I hated those 3D head cases, too. They eventually made regular packages (one of which was Season 6, which you could send in a coupon and they would send you the regular box). All of my DVD sets are regular boxes.

Seasons 16-19 are not on iTunes either. Only Seasons 21 thru the current season are available on iTunes.


I really don't get why they would skip. Have you seen any plans on them being released?

Marty Mankins

For Season 16, they are only showing a release of Dec 2013 for Region 2 (Europe). No Region 1 release has been announced. Nothing for season 17-19.


That's a really bad way to treat dedicated fans. 

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