Online video rentals a double-edged sword

By JAKE MOKRIS
Teen Takeover staff
With the relatively recent advent of online movie rental programs, the movie-renting business has moved into the 21st century. Through these rental programs, families can rent movies at home and potentially never go to a rental store again.


But this forward-looking movie-rental device has its drawbacks. Though local video rental stores are not obsolete, the online rental programs have set local stores on the path to obsolescence. The consequences of this trend are unfavorable to the families that do not subscribe to one of the online rental programs.
Suppose you decide that you want to rent a movie to watch tonight. If you subscribe to an online rental program, and if you had decided a few days beforehand that you wanted to watch a movie tonight, you could have gone online a few days earlier, perused a list of movies, and ordered one. The movie would come in the mail, and you would have it to watch tonight. But if you did not subscribe to such a program, or if you had not planned this movie night beforehand, you would have to go to the local video rental store.
But when you get there, you find that the store does not have the movie you want. The clerk tells you that, because the store is part of a major chain that has its own online rental program, the local stores no longer keep large amounts of movies in stock. The clerk then asks you if you want to subscribe to the online rental program.
Or, if the store does happen to have the movie, the clerk says that you can buy the movie instead of merely renting it. By selling the movies and diminishing their stock, local movie rental stores can force consumers to depend on online rental programs to find particular movies.
As a result, impromptu movie nights at home are over. The only way to rent a movie spontaneously is to go to the movie store, but many of the good movies might be available only through the online rental programs. So unless you plan to rent a new release, you may no longer be able to simply drive to the movie store and look for a movie to watch.
Jake Mokris is a home-schooled student and member of the Teen Takeover staff.

About Scott Fisher

I'm opinion page editor and blogging coordinator for the York Daily Record/Sunday News and Yorkblog.com. Phone: 717-771-2049. Email: sfisher@ydr.com. Twitter: twitter.com/YDReditpage.
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5 Responses to Online video rentals a double-edged sword

  1. Matt Dunphy says:

    The whole notion of delivering media in a format like VHS and DVD is very much on the way out. I’ve got Netflix and I’m never going back, but even they are a limited lifespan business model.
    Already, people carry around music on iPods. 12,000 songs on a device the size of a pack of cards. That’s something like 40 days of music. Don’t feel like picking your own music? There are a bazillion podcasts out there – timeshifted radio. Who needs CDs? Buying music off iTunes doesn’t have the same satisfaction of getting a 12″ or a CD with deluxe packaging, but boy is it convenient.
    And that’s how movies are going to be soon. Why bother with a clunky disc that only holds half a movie when you can download three dozen films onto your portable media player? Going to the movie rental store is more spontaneous than waiting 24 hours for Netflix to show up, but downloading a movie from an on-demand service is even more spontaneous.
    Movie night with the family will go the way of reading the lyric booklet on your first spin of an album, or getting tickets to a theatrical production or musical, or going to the drive-in, or even going to see a band play live.
    Why go see a concert in person, spend all that time and money, when you can blast it on your home theater? Oh well.

  2. Kathy says:

    For those of us who rent only a handful of movies a year, Netflix wouldn’t be a good option. Part of the fun of spontaneous movie nights is the actual going to rent a movie. The family standing/sitting around a computer is just not the same. Memories and togetherness are sacrificed for technology and entertainment.
    Our family has started to visit department stores to buy movies. With the cost of DVDs so low, we can usually buy a movie for the cost of 2 or 3 rentals. The department stores actually have a better selection than the video rental stores.
    iPods? Some of us rarely listen to the 10 CDs that we own. What would we do with 40 days of music?! What do people do with all that music anyway? Makes me wonder about the direction of our society. But, that’s another topic.

  3. Matt Dunphy says:

    I’m with you Kathy — before I got married, I only bought DVDs. That way I had to think a little bit longer about if I was going to spend the $20 ;)
    At my house, we had a big TV in the living room. A lot of my friends had their own TVs in their own rooms. I can only imagine that entertainment is even more fragmented, I’m sure kids in high school have their own laptops now. I’m not impressed :b
    On the other hand, I have more CDs than I can keep track of. I wouldn’t mind if that wall of plastic and paper would be compressed onto an iPod.
    The thing with iPods is that they make a lot more sense in a more urban environment, when you’re walking or riding the bus/train/etc. Whenever I’m in Manhattan, every fifth person is trotting around with the signature white earbuds.

  4. Nathan says:

    Martin Library has video’s and DVDs for rental for $2.00 each. New movies go for 3 days, non-new release movies go out for 7 days, and non-fiction movies go out for 14 days! Better the Blockbuster!

  5. Matt Dunphy says:

    Martin Library also has a gazillion books – also far better than Blockbuster ;)

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