RE: Price Gouging?

Steve Blis (
Fri, 5 Apr 1996 15:46:57 -0600 (CST)

This is a subject that never fails to stir up a lively debate in this newsgroup. Let me add my two cents from the perspective of someone who has been a vendor to this market for a number of years from a variety of different businesses.

I don't think anyone is challenging the right of what I will call "non-theatrical"-type producers/distributors to charge a premium price for quality video titles aimed at a somewhat limited market. What many librarians find unacceptable is "two-tiered" pricing policies. I agree completely with them. I also believe that these policies are unwieldy dinosaurs whose effectiveness had diminished to the point that they will soon be extinct.

When I was Marketing Manager at B&T we refused to accept two-tiered pricing from any vendor whose titles we distributed, primarily to avoid operational headaches but also because I considered it foolish from a marketing perspective. Whenever possible I encouraged video providers to include public performance rights at no additional cost, as we would indicate these rights in VIDEO ALERT as a further incentive to purchase the title.

As librarians grow more sophisticated about purchasing video materials, I believe that response from the market, as we have seen in these previous discussions, will eliminate this practice. As I said, librarians are willing to pay a premium price for high-quality productions with limited commercial appeal, understanding, as has been noted, that these will not be showing up on WalMart's shelf anytime soon. But I consider the "have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too" attitude informing the home video/institutional pricing distinction to be ill-advised and it seems as if an increasing number of librarians aint buying it anymore. In my opinion, suppliers of video titles in the "non-theatrical" arena should settle on one price for all markets that will provide the optimal return. I have already witnessed a number of these distributors doing exactly that. If a higher price for public performance rights is considered a necessity, provide them when requested or when appropriate for an additiona!
l charge.

In many cases, home video and "non-theatrical" rights have been assigned to different companies. In an example such as First Run/Icarus, they are often divisions within the same company in "competition" with each other. The point is that you should check with a wholesaler like B&T to find out if a different supplier offers the same title at "home video pricing."

Steve Bliss
Bonneville Worldwide Entertainment