The Adventure Time Season 1 DVD: Already Past Its Sell-By Date?

Finally, after 652 days (or 1 year, 9 months and 13days), the Adventure Time Season 1 DVD will be released on July 10th, 2012. While this is good news, is the idea of DVD boxset already past its sell-by date?

First though, a clarification; I ‘m not referring to the content. We all know Adventure Time is awesome and has maintained a great level of success since its debut. No, I’m talking about the very notion of a DVD boxset itself, and in this case, the almost egregious delay between the end of the 1st season and this release.

Oh sure, we’ve had the odd DVD featuring a handful of episodes, but we’ve had to wait well over a year for the complete boxset. Why is this so? The answer is as maddingly simple as it is annoying, release windows.

Release windows: wherin studios/networks attempt to extract the maximum revenue from one source before permitting another one to supplant it. Much the same as why DVDs must come out after the theatrical run, DVDs of TV shows are only permitted to be sold well after the network has eeked all the ad revenue it can from the season.

That’s not to say the episodes won’t be broadcast, they will, but they won’t command near as much revenue in the perpetual reruns that they do when they fresh.¬†Hence the lag, which persists despite the fact that two additional seasons have been broadcast since and the 4th began last night.

So that’s left me asking, just why do season boxsets continue to exist, and why, oh why, has the idea of a delay not been beaten to a pulp by now?

Consider the following points:

  • Internet streaming is on the rise (Cartoon Network themselves stream the latest episodes)
  • As a sub-point, the incredibly internet-savvy generation that are precisely whom Cartoon Network are targeting have probably already downloaded the torrents already (as if the fact of Frederator leveraging the internet as a promotional tool isn’t an indication enough of this already)
  • Boxsets are costly to make and distribute. I’d wager the profit margin on DVDs isn’t near as high as it was)
  • TV shows depend on regular viewship. Leaving more casual fans in the cold causes them to move onto other things as they are starved for new episodes.
  • Just think, all this time, Cartoon Network could have been making even more money through boxset sales. Advertising revenue is one thing, but it doesn’t evaporate when boxsets are released.

Now in fairness, a year and some change isn’t too bad. Some series have to wait much longer. Some are never released at all, destined to languish in the archives forever.

Thankully though, the rise of the internet and its associated services like Netflix have meant that TV shows are making it online quicker than ever before (Portlandia comes to mind, as does Futurama). Animated shows deserve similar treatment, not being trotted out over a year after the iron was struck.

The Adventure Time Season 1 DVD boxset is the last of a dying breed. I’m willing to wager that we won’t see a fourth season boxset come 2014.