Bonus features have become a key selling point for DVDs.
Not only do the director's commentaries and deleted scenes interest cinephiles, but added educational materials appeal to parents. Also, language tracks -- particularly Spanish -- lessen the necessity of carrying special inventory in ethnically diverse areas. Overall, these extras make DVD the video format of choice, and are prompting new hardware sales and even purchases of movies consumers might already have in their collection.
"[DVD bonus features] have had a great impact, because it's something you can't get on VHS," said Laura Fisher, video coordinator, Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind. "Some people buy DVD players just to be able to see these features."
Bob Gettner, video, buyer/coordinator, B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb., also said the additional features are a "big plus" for DVD sales.
"It's something DVD buffs can get that VHS customers cannot get, and it does affect sales," he said.
"People love it," agreed Bob Alexander, president, Alexander & Associates, New York, a video industry research and consulting firm. "Features that improve the sound system or provide a choice of formats, like pan-and-scan or wide screen, are widely appreciated because people like the option," he said.
Supermarkets, which generally showcase a larger portion of family and children's video products than other video retailers, have the opportunity to promote the educational features offered on many children's DVDs, he said.
"The educational and informational aspects are something moms would find appealing," Alexander noted. Promotion of sell-through items that provide dynamic bonus commentary, short featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage and other "extras" through point-of-sale materials would help raise consumer awareness, he said.
Language tracks that often accompany DVD footage are another merchandising opportunity for supermarkets in ethnically diverse areas, Alexander added.
"Language tracks are interesting and Spanish tracks are a very important offering," he said.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's animated movie, "Ice Age," which streets on Nov. 26, features celebrity voice talents of Carlos Espejel, Jesus Ochoa and Sergio Sendel on the DVD Spanish-language track. Additional special features include multi-angle scene exploration, games for kids, deleted scenes and "Making of Ice Age" featurette.
"DVD language options enable retailers to offer DVD titles to several different market segments, eliminating the need to purchase copies in different languages," said Bill Bryant, vice president, sales, Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. "This increases consumer options and decreases product costs for retailers. Additional bonus footage and director's commentaries are also an added value for the rental and/or sell-through consumer."
Mandy Budreau, video buyer, G & R Felpausch, Hastings, Mich., said special features have less of an impact.
"Video junkies collect and buy them, but special features aren't a big deal in rentals," she said. Consumers are purchasing DVDs to supply their new DVD players, not for the deleted scenes, foreign language track or director's commentary, she said.
Bill Glaseman, video buyer, Bashas' Markets, Chandler, Ariz., agreed that DVD extra options are not the driving force in the decision to buy a certain DVD.
"It gives studios something to advertise, but there's no great impact," he said. "It's difficult to measure -- customers buy [DVDs] for the title and they want to have that title at home, but they don't buy it for the special features."
If consumers own a VCR and a DVD player, however, Fisher noted that they tend to purchase the DVD for the extra material.