Packaging Technology Fosters a New Product Category
Oxygen-scavenging film and vacuum packaging expand sales channels for DVD-based home entertainment products.
Packaging technology is helping to create a new product category—limited-play DVDs—and expand the distribution channels for these home entertainment products.
Flexplay Technologies, New York City, pioneered the limited-play DVD, called ez-D. Here’s how it works: Once a consumer removes the DVD from its airtight package, he or she can view or play it for about 48 hours. There is no limit to the number of plays within this preset “window.”
After 48 hours, oxygen degrades the DVD, making it unplayable. The disk changes color from red to black to signal its “expiration.”
Packaging is key to the disk’s efficacy and performance. “Bringing a new technology to market with the certainty that the packaging would maintain the integrity of the product specifications is a critical component for us to be successful,” says Alan Blaustein, Flexplay’s CEO.
Vacuum packaging, combined with oxygen-scavenging (OS) film, ensures product integrity over a one-year shelf life for unopened packages.
Proprietary OS film from Cryovac removes residual oxygen inside the package to parts per million levels within a few days of packaging the ez-D disk. This prevents the product from deteriorating during handling and storage.
Flexplay licenses Evatone, Clearwater, Fla., to manufacture the ez-D disks. Evatone packs the disks in clear, 5-inch by 7-inch pouches on a customized thermoform-fill-seal machine from Multivac.
Package decoration can range from a pressure-sensitive label on one side of the thin pouch to a paperboard sleeve, says Doug Franzen, Evatone’s Vice President of Manufacturing. “We can attach a hanger tab to the pouch for peg display.”
Flexplay’s “play-and-pitch” DVD suits a variety of home entertainment offerings. These include movies, music, videogames, TV programs, software, advertising and promotions.
For the movie I Don’t Know Jack, Evatone produced “screener” copies of the motion picture on the ez-D DVDs. The film’s producer, Had To Be Made Films, distributed the limited-play disks at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Reducing the Risk of Piracy
Since the disk expires after 48 hours of opening the package, it helps avoid “pass along” of the movie. This limits the risk of piracy.
Last fall, Evatone produced an ez-D DVD for the MTV Video Music Awards Latin America. The disk was part of the awards program book and featured nominated music and other content from top Latin American artists.
Technicolor, Camarillo, Calif., also licenses the technology from Flexplay. The DVD replicator is manufacturing ez-D DVDs for Buena Vista Home Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.
Last fall, Buena Vista began testing about 45 movies on the limited-play disk through 7-Eleven convenience stores and Papa John’s restaurants.
Due the success of a four-city trial, the test market has been expanded this spring to three more cities and throughout Florida.
“The initial test results have clearly demonstrated the potential of ez-D with market findings that have strengthened and verified our views of the concept,” says Bob Chapek, President of Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
7-Eleven, a key retailer in the test, says that ez-D is a natural fit with its convenience offering and an opportunity to drive DVD consumers to its stores for a good value on popular new videos.
The movie disks retail for about $5.99 each. As volume increases, the price should come down.
Papa John’s believes that a pizza and a movie go hand-in-hand.
“ez-D gives consumers easy access to recently released titles in places they already shop and the opportunity to watch them at their convenience without worrying about rental returns, late fees or scratched discs,” Flexplay’s Blaustein says. “It also offers retailers the opportunity to expand their existing DVD business; and for first time DVD retailers, easy entrée into the growing DVD category.”
DVD Drives Video Industry
For the second consecutive year, DVD sales have helped make home video America’s most popular entertainment medium. Consumer spending on home video exceeds movie tickets, videogames and mass-market books, according to the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG).
DVDs represent 72 percent of all home video transactions. DVD retail sales grew to $11.6 billion in 2003, a 33 percent increase over the prior year. Consumers also spent $4.5 billion renting DVDs, up 55 percent from 2002.
Sales for DVD music video titles jumped 102 percent in 2003, to 17.2 million units.
U.S. consumers bought 34 million DVD players in 2003, a 33 percent hike over 2002. The DEG estimates that consumers will purchase 30 million players this year, bringing household penetration to about 65 percent.
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