And we see the same thing happening with e-books. Publishers want the same $29.95 price for an e-book as they would for a hardcover - when the costs of printing and the risk of printing are eliminated, along with the costs of distribution and retail stores. As a result, sales of $0.99 to $3.99 e-books are booming, while tomes from major publishers sell far less. If I'm spending $29.99, I'll want an autographed hardcover, thank you.
But sadly, most of the tomes on the New York Times "Bestseller" list are hardly worth the money. Many are political dirges or celebrity books (land a plane in the Hudson, write a book, right?) that are hardly great works of literature. And with regard to political books, many of these make the "bestseller" list by dint of political supporters buying them in bulk and handing them out for free (which, when you think about it, is a great way to get around political donation limits, too).
(Of course, this again calls into question as to why we, as humans, value media content more when it is "new" than when it is even a few months or weeks old.)
The point is, if a product is priced reasonably, then people will be less inclined to buy pirated copies. If a DVD is, say, $5 to $10, then I would not be motivated to buy a pirated copy to save a couple of bucks. But when it is $29.99, then a pirated copy looks attractive.
Not only that, if a DVD is say, $5 to $10, then I would be more willing to take the risk in buying it, and worry less that it will be a "dog" of a movie.
They do sell DVDs in this price range, of course. The local supermarket has a bin of such discs, and I was looking at them while waiting for a prescription to be filled. However, most were "direct to DVD" dogs that were not worth even $5, as they were virtually unwatchable films. For this class of film, even $5 is too high a price to pay.
The author of the article was inspired by his experiences in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia) where demand for American media content is high. As I noted before, it isn't hard to translate Explosion Movies into another language and another culture, particularly one prone to violence. But what the author noted was, that even if these young Saudis (who have lots of money) wanted to buy a "legitimate" copy of Explosion Movie Part II, there was no place to buy it. The supply of media was simply not present - which in turn encouraged piracy.
It is an interesting conundrum. From the consumer's perspective, we would think that lower prices for media content would expand sales. Is it better to sell 100,000 copies of a movie at $29.99 or One million copies at $5 each?
And the popularity of video rental and streaming services, like Netflix, would seem to show that consumers are eager to consume media - at a price point far below what the media outlets want to charge. Why pay $29.95 to buy a movie that you may watch only once? That same amount of money pays for two months of movies on Netflix.
But then again, Hollywood studios aren't that stupid (or are they? You do hear stories). Surely they have legions of accountants, economists, psychologists, and the like who design careful price points for all their products, in order to optimize profitability and sales. Right? So $29.99 for "School of Rock" must be a rational price point that some folks are prepare to pay. Or at least we would assume so.
Of course, as a consumer, you always have another choice than piracy. And that is to consume less media in your life. As Americans, we consumer vast quantities of it, being observers of life, and not participants. We watch an average of 4.6 hours a day of television. We read books, listen to the radio (or Pandora or the iPod, or whatever). We go to movies (if we are under 30) and pay $15 for a ticket and $10 for popcorn. We are a voracious audience if nothing else.
But few of use create anymore. And being creative is always an option and alternative to being a consumer.
And thanks to the Internet, it is possible for average people to be creators and not just consumers. You can write a book and sell it online as an e-book. Your garage band can raise money on Kickstarter and sell their own music online. You can make your own videos on YouTube with digital cameras that rival what movie studios once had.
And maybe that is what really scares the media conglomerates - people being enabled through the internet instead of being passive sheep. And this explains why they want us to look at the Internet as just another channel on Cable TV - where you select a program, be it Facebook or Twitter or Netflix, or whatever, and simply watch passively.
But you do have choices. Myself, I don't complain about the price of media. I simply choose not to buy or look for less expensive or free alternatives. A book from the library (or indeed, even a video) is free. I've never paid $29.99 for a video, and likely never will. And I wonder who the heck does (from that I can see, poor people, who can least afford to).