DVD economics: what price Doctor Who? (UPDATED)

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Can someone explain this to me?

Life on Mars Season 1 Box Set

  • DVD Release Date: 15 May 2006
  • Run Time: 472 minutes
  • Amazon Price: £16.98 GBP
Doctor Who Season 1 Box Seat

  • DVD Release Date: 21 Nov 2005
  • Run Time: 585 minutes
  • Amazon Price: £49.16 GBP

Those 113 minutes seem awfully expensive. Is this really the most profitable price the BBC should be charging for Doctor Who, two years after original broadcast? That would suggest a remarkably inelastic demand compared with other DVD boxed sets.

UPDATE: Via Facebook, a friend of mine has just pointed out the following pricing regime for another group of BBC DVD box sets:
Red Dwarf Box Set (Season 1-8) – £104.99
Red Dwarf Box Set (Season 1-4) – £24.98
Red Dwarf Box Set (Season 5-8) – £24.98

Would it really be too much of a strain on the license fee to give the chaps pocket calculators?

11 thoughts on “DVD economics: what price Doctor Who? (UPDATED)

  1. In my experience, most people fixated with the need to be ‘mature’ and adult are anything but. I seem to remember it being a particular preoccupation in the playground.

  2. One of the reasons Doctor Who DVDs tend to be more expensive than comparative-length releases is that they have medium sales, top 20 or so rather than huge hit film-scale profits, but have top-end extras – documentaries for every story, commentaries and other goodies, plus an enormous amount of restoration work for the original series, all of which add a lot to the cost of producing the DVD. Big movies can afford a lot of extras because they make a big profit, but if you compare Doctor Who to TV DVDs from, say, from companies like Network, those are usually devoid of extras and even subtitles. As far as Life On Mars goes, though, that boxed set has fairly good extras as well, so it does seem slightly strange.

    Having said that, I’m surprised that, after a couple of years, no site seems to be selling the 2005 Doctor Who box set at half price yet. I know that the Doctor Who range is one of the steadiest sellers – obviously peaking on first release, but all of them continue selling, unlike most DVDs which tail off sharply – but there’s been strong price competition for the original series DVDs, often seen at 50% or more off after a year or so. My best guess would be that the Life On Mars DVDs started off at a slightly lower price because they were expected to have stronger initial sales and so make their money back more quickly, but that sales dropped off and so the price of Season One was reduced to try and keep people buying. With Doctor Who, I suspect sales are more inelastic; as long as people keep buying at that price, they’ll keep selling at that price :-^

    Or, alternatively, Life is cheap and Doctors are expensive.

    And Laurence, in the warm weather, is it not more sensible to be wearing short trousers? 😉

  3. What extras are there on the Dr Who DVDs? The BBC are notoriously poor at doing this!

    I’ll wait a while before buying them as the new series 1 was IMO significantly better than series 2 which was in turn better than what I’ve seen of series 3.

    I’m now going into hiding before James and Alex hunt me down for such heresy 🙂

  4. I don’t think demand fully explains it. Compare DW Second Season and Smallville Second Season in Canada: the former is about 2/3 more than the latter. (Prices seem pretty comparable for other seasons.) Both are “genre” programs, so the market for both should be approximately as small. Doctor Who might be an import for us; but, if so, then why is the price difference worse (almost tripling) from Amazon UK?

    I suspect the BBC knows we’ll pay whatever they charge, so they have no incentive to keep the price reasonable.

  5. Hywel,

    I would agree that Series 1 is better than Series 2, but Series 3 is certainly better than its predecessor. All the series have their high and low points however, and S2 has some moments of genius (the less said about Fear Her the better though).

    I’m not sure I should be lumped in with Alex, who is bona fide Whovian aristocracy. I’m a mere amateur by comparison: I bought my first ever Doctor Who novel last week, and that was for my girlfriend!

  6. To be fair the fact that you hadn’t bought any Dr Who books has more to do with you preferring non-fiction to novels, than it does with your level of geekery – Dr Who or otherwise! 🙂

  7. I’m proud of my geek status, I just deny having a particular passion for Doctor Who. Different Alex, by the way!

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