Movie Rentals: Then And Now

Not more than fifteen (15) years ago from today or in mid-1990s, when we want to watch movies at home, we rent copies of them from video rental shops. Movies were then available in various formats and depending on the video player machines that we own at that time, we rent them in either Video Home System (VHS) format, Betamax (also known as Beta) cassette tape, Laser Disc (LD) or Compact Disc (CD).

For VHS and Beta tapes, if I remember it right, we pay PhP50.00 (about US$2.00 when computed at the currency exchange rate in those days) per movie while LDs were more expensive at PhP100.00 (about US$4.00) each because of their better quality video and audio outputs. The CDs were priced almost the same as the VHS and Beta tapes and this was the same format used by illegal traders of pirated video copies such that it became so cheap to buy, it costs the same price as renting.

The proliferation of pirated videos in current DVD format caused the video rental shops to close not so long ago. While efforts are being exerted by the authorities to stop piracy in all forms, we cannot expect the likes of ACA Video to be back in business anymore. With the advancement of Internet technology, the movie rental business is now going online. YouTube, the video streaming giant owned by Google, leads the initiative and early this week, it added 3,000 new “movies for rent” online in the United States as it continue the evolution aimed at wooing viewers away from television.

YouTube will charge US$3.99 to rent new movie releases while library titles (old movies) will cost US$2.99. Renters will have thirty (30) days to watch the movies they rent but they need to finish a movie within 24 hours from when viewing is started. The video giant promised that some movies would be available for streaming the same day they are released on DVDs.

You would notice that movie rentals, then and now, practically cost the same. Video formats changed and quality improved a lot but the past and present generations are lucky enough to enjoy movies for the same price. Foods are more expensive nowadays so should we be at least thankful that non-essentials like movie entertainment remained the same?

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