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DVD rentals outplay VHS

Jackson Bell

BURBANK-- After years of growing popularity, DVDs have finally

surpassed VHS cassettes as the premier home entertainment medium.

According to figures provided by Video Software Dealers Assn., a

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home entertainment trade organization, an estimated 28.2 million DVDs

and 27.3 million VHS cassettes were rented during the week ending

June 15. It marked the first time digital videodisc rentals exceeded

videocassettes.

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As of Sunday, national rentals for DVDs totaled $96.3 million and

VHS cassette rentals totaled $78.1 million, according to association

figures.

Despite the numbers, local experts say this doesn’t mean VHS will

soon join Beta on the extinct list.

“I don’t think a prediction [on videocassettes becoming obsolete]

can be made yet, because DVD players are 50% of the market, where VHS

is 98%,” said Pamela Godfrey, vice president of worldwide publicity

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for Burbank-based Warner Bros. “Though the lessening of VHS is still

quite viable at the moment.”

Andrew Mun, a spokesman for Video Software Dealers Assn., said

that not only are customers attracted to the sharper images and

clearer sound quality of DVDs, such added features as filmmakers’

commentaries also appeals to movie buffs. He said that they are less

expensive than VHS cassettes, further boosting their demand.

But, Mun cautioned, don’t expect videocassettes to disappear

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anytime soon.

“VHS represents a substantial part of the [home entertainment]

business and we don’t think people will throw out their cassettes

just yet,” he said. “There are some titles that are still not

available on DVD. And because of that, VHS still remains attractive.”

Aaron Gasparyan, who manages the Blockbuster Video at 2420 W.

Burbank Blvd., estimates that videocassettes have a shelf life of

about 10 to 15 more years before they become as obsolete as

eight-track tapes.

“The only thing DVDs can’t do is record,” said Gasparyan, whose

store stocks mostly DVDs. “Once [customers] can do that, there will

be no more use for VHS tapes.”


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