Sunday, January 18, 2015

VIDEO RENTAL STORES DIE OF LONELINESS

Video killed the radio star and internet streaming and cheap DVDs killed the video store. The long foretold death of the video rental store has been slow but steady. iTunes, Walmart, Netflix and the like have come out on top.

VOCM is reporting that the city's last video store is closing up shop.  January will be the final month of operation for Jumbo Video on Highland Drive joining Allens Video, Blockbuster, Rogers and all of the small local video stores of the 80's and 90's.

Consumer demand has  clearly moved to the digital distribution of video entertainment. The economics vanished a while ago although there was a nostalgic group of customers who hung on to the tradition of renting a few videos to watch over the weekend. Store owners diversified into video game rentals, coffee shops, pizza joints and laundry mats in the hopes of keeping the nostalgic video store alive.

The home video market is huge, valued at $20 Billion a year.  Growth in pay-TV video on demand, and strong increases in Internet sales, rentals and subscriptions has come at the cost of physical DVD/Blue-ray sales.

I remember the early days of video. Introduced in 1976 the Video Home System competed with Betamax for dominance. VHS vanquished the superior Beta tapes and the laser-disc but lost out to the shiner DVD in the late 1990s.

Out in St. Bernard's we had VHS before cable. We used to rent a machine and three video's on a Friday night for the weekend from Power's Shop or Wallace Pardys. (rent two get one free and be kind and rewind) 

The selection was modest. We never owned a VHS player while I lived at home. However, I recall the tingling excitement of having friends over to watch a few videos and hoping to see a boob here and there. (Anyone remember Porky's?)

The VHS machines and the VHS tapes were not made to last. The tapes wore after constant usage and the magnetic video heads of the machines led to damaged tapes. Remember rewinding the tapes so you could get the tape back into the plastic case or adjusting the track to get the heads to provide a clear picture.

The tapes may be history, the video store rental store may be all-but gone but they changed the economics of the film industry and shaped the viewing patterns that we take for granted today.

It was a good run. I'll miss the popcorn.





No comments: