WITH the growth of online strea-ming and piracy, it might come as a surprise to some that Baw Baw’s video stores are stabilising, and even starting to make a comeback.
Above: Ricky Dyt of Top Video Warragul says he is confident about the future of local video retailers.
This article was first published in the 12 September 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Retailers are reporting that declines in sales have either slowed or are growing for the first time in years, but poor-quality releases and a warm winter have hindered a greater return to form for the sector.
For Leading Edge Video Drouin’s Chris Barker, the influence of piracy is “a hard one to call.”
“I’m probably down about 30 per cent on two years ago, but only down 10 per cent from last year,” he told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“Everyone talks about how the downloading is an issue. I don’t think that that’s the major point.
“I just think it’s more that people aren’t coming in because they’re not watching movies any more, and the actual quality of movies has diminished too.
“The weather doesn’t help either.”
Mr Barker said he believed online piracy had had a greater influence on TV show rentals than films, which were affected by free-to-air and pay TV services.
But for industry veteran Ricky Dyt of Warragul’s Top Video, piracy is still a big bottom line influence.
“Over the last four years the big blockbusters have been down,” Mr Dyt told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“I think that’s really affected by piracy, and the known titles, the top 10 per cent of titles, are really affected, [along with] local Australian films and TV series.
Mr Dyt said the video industry had responded by lowering prices.
“The price point has dropped away because obviously there’s a lot of free content on the internet, whether it’s legal or not legal it’s still [competition],” he said.
“I think going forward the two will co-exist. Our figures are probably marginally up on 12 months ago… but where it goes with technology going forward it’s hard to say.
“I think there will always be one store per town, and that’s what’s happened in the Latrobe Valley… but when I first started there was probably seven, eight, nine stores per town.
“We’ve got a fair amount of confidence.”
Mr Barker was less positive about the long-term future of his business.
“It is sustainable at this point, not well into the future,” he said.
The market has changed considerably in Mr Dyt’s 26 years with Top Video, and stores have had to adapt to changing tastes.
“For probably the first 20 years our income was 90 per cent new release stock, and now we’re very big in TV,” he said.
“We rent out the total TV series in one hit… plus probably more [cash flow comes from] sales.”
“Probably 30 per cent of our income is from sales now too.”
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