In my post from earlier this week about the drawbacks of Blu-Ray, one of the points I tried to make was that all of the extras that Blu-Ray discs provide really amount to very little of interest to me and, I would guess, to most consumers — especially if they cause the total user experience of Blu-Ray discs to be slow and problematic (they do). Contrary to what the entertainment industry believes, most of us can easily live without all the deleted scenes, interviews, outtakes, trailers, and commercials disguised as documentaries — to say nothing of the uniformly dismissable interactive features and supplemental content that Blu-Ray makes accessible over the Internet.
What matters is the movie itself, the core content. If you don’t believe me, you can believe Netflix. Through their success they’ve inadvertently proven that the concept of “DVD extras” is hardly a necessary component of providing good entertainment. Their discs-by-mail service treats a two-disc movie release (one for the movie itself, one for the extras) as two different rentals, and so it’s probably safe to say that very few people go to the trouble of renting that second disc. And of course, their streaming service offers up no extras at all and has proven to be a big hit nevertheless.
In an age where entertainment journalism is so popular and when everyone is interested in the backstory of practically every movie, regardless of how good the movie itself is, it’s interesting to me that extras can be regarded as so inessential. But they really are, and user experience designers across all media would do well to keep that in mind. Cherries don’t sell sundaes.
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