How have DVDs changed the lifespan of TV shows?

Future Possibilities

Thanks to DVDs, a cancelled TV show can often lead to more successful projects down the road -- and continue to create revenue for those involved while they're looking for their next jobs. Many of the actors and writers from high-profile examples like "Firefly," "Arrested Development" and "Veronica Mars" would probably tell you their "failed" shows were the best things that ever happened to them.

They've gone on to earn starring roles in hit network shows and produce feature films. And it's all based on the support they receive from loving fans and savvy producers who know how special those "failed" shows really were, having learned about them through their DVD buzz despite missing the show when it originally aired.

Likewise, the existence of DVDs can lead to future development within the world of the show itself. Direct-to-video movies and sequels, animated spin-offs, prequels and other DVD-only content mean the show can go on, even when it doesn't continue to be made and aired on conventional television.

This leads to the creation of jobs in the industry, opportunities for up-and-coming talent and ongoing merchandising opportunities. It's an infinitely extended life cycle for the brand, which would have been unthinkable in the days before DVDs. Every sale made is a sale proved, which means whether you're selling a DVD sequel, a novelization or a toy, you're increasing the possibility that future products within that franchise will be produced.

Many science-fiction and fantasy shows, for example, find a second -- and lucrative -- life in comic book series once they've ended, because their fans are so passionate they'll seek out the continuation of the stories in any form. The largest franchises can be expanded into online role-playing games, where entire universes are available for fans to interact personally with the show's core concepts.

In fact, for many shows, the popularity of the show really begins after it's been cancelled. Television ratings are a fickle -- some might say broken -- system. But once a show is off the air, all that creative energy and love used to make the show can be put into finding new ways to use the same concept. Thanks to DVDs, the old rules about where a TV show starts and ends no longer really apply.

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  • Sandoval, Greg. "Best Buy: Delays on DVD rentals boost sales." CBS Interactive. April 14, 2011. (April 14, 2011)
  • Taub, Eric A. "The Blu-ray vs. DVD View-Off." The New York Times. March 12, 2009. (April 14, 2011)
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