How Disney Is Driving Up Digital Video Prices

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If you’ve noticed that prices in the Amazon Digital Video Store and elsewhere seem to be steadily rising, you’re not wrong, but it’s probably not for the reasons you’d suspect.

I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Disney, and it’s because Disney owns many of the most popular media companies and properties.

Virtually all of Disney’s digital videos are priced higher than the standard price points you’ll find on non-Disney digital videos. For Disney movies, all the most recent ones and all the big hits typically sell for $14.99 in SD and $19.99 in HD. They almost NEVER go on sale at a discount and when they do, the “sale” price is usually $9.99.


Mulan Cover
I’ve wanted this in digital format for years, but I’m not paying $19.99 for it.


So it should come as no surprise that the Disney animated classics and Pixar movies are among the most costly titles in any digital video store at any given time, but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg.


Disney Owns More Than You Know
Why are all the Marvel movies, like Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Ant Man and The Avengers so expensive now? Disney owns Marvel.

Why are all the Muppet movies and TV shows so expensive now? Disney owns The Muppets.

What about Star Wars, Indiana Jones and other LucasFilm movies? Dreamworks movies? What about videos produced by ABC Family, ESPN and Touchstone Pictures? What about Arts & Entertainment (A&E) network and Lifetime network programs?

Yup. Owned by Disney, one and all.


E.T. Cover


The only reason you can currently (as of 1/26/16) get E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for $4.99 in HD is because it was a Spielberg joint that was released by Universal, not a Lucasfilms property. I’d be willing to bet there’s no way you will ever see a Disney-owned, popular movie like this one priced so low to own in HD.


As Disney Goes, So Goes The Video Store
Disney obviously makes no attempt to compete on price, and the mere fact that they have so many subsidiaries grants them a very large piece of the listings pie in any digital video store.

As I’ve written as recently as last October, consumer willingness to pay is what always seems to drive pricing on Amazon, and Amazon is always willing to take a loss-leader approach on digital content when they launch a new device or want to throw down with a competing store.

In the Instant Video Store at least, it looks like the loss leader days are largely over. You can still find a lot of deals on any given day (use the links on my D-Media Bargains & Freebies page to search for digital bargains by price), but the discount listings are definitely getting shorter and the big hit movies aren’t popping up as frequently in those listings as they used to.


You’ll have to resign yourself to paying full retail for most everything Disney owns. If a day comes that you find a major film you’ve been wanting from a Disney-owned property priced lower than $9.99, BUY IT IMMEDIATELY, because the discount isn’t likely to ever go lower and it certainly won’t last long.


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