DVDs are Way Too Expensive

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
March 4 2013 3:00 PM

DVDs of TV Shows Are Way Too Expensive

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This calendar would be a dumb thing to buy no matter how much you like the franchise.

Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

I'm working on a Star Trek Completist feature, so naturally I've been watching Trek episodes on my Netflix streaming where they're all available for the low price of $8 a month. Which only makes it all the more striking how expensive it would be to buy all these episodes piecemeal on DVD. Amazon's selling the three seasons of the Original Series for $133.79, the complete TNG for $297.32, the complete Deep Space 9 for $253.62, the complete Voyager for $295.67, and the complete Enterprise for $224.98—That's about $775 in total for all the TV shows.

Again, an unlimited streaming Netflix plan costs $8 a month. You could get eight years' worth of access to all those shows plus all the other shows on Netflix for the price of the DVDs. And it's not like the DVDs are so expensive because they're difficult or costly to manufacture. You can get a 100 pack of blank DVDs for $25. They're expensive because the rights are expensive. But those same rights are sold off much more cheaply in the form of the Netflix bundle. Which doesn't necessarily go to show that anyone is doing anything wrong, but it at least suggests that as content consumption shifts to on-demand streaming subscription services away from purchase of physical media that consumers are going to get much better deals.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.