So I’m trying to wrap my head around this and so far, have not been able to. I’m a fan of the Alien series and now that Alien: Covenant is available on Digital HD via Vudu and Amazon, I’ve had to fight my trigger finger which wants to instantly purchase it. The reason is that the DVD version, which comes with the Digital HD copy, is cheaper. That makes very little sense.

Let’s look at the difference between standalone Digital HD and DVDs with Digital HD Included

Since I’m interested in Alien: Covenant, we’ll use it in the following breakdown.

The HD digital copy currently runs for $19.99 on Amazon.com. The same is true for Vudu. This is a copy of the movie that you download or stream instantly. Let’s check it out first.

Digital HD

  • There is no need for a physical copy because it is streamed from a server over the Internet.
  • There are server maintenance and bandwidth costs involved, but each server is hosting many different films (likely hundreds). Dividing this cost between the films reduces it heavily.
  • It’s the same version of the movie that was included on the disc.
  • There is nothing to store in a warehouse, only data taking up several gigabytes on a server somewhere. It may be stored a dozen or so times for backup redundancy and faster transfer due to the server location.

DVD

  • The DVD version is a printed physical copy. The manufacturer had to make an actual physical product.
  • Materials for the disk, inserts, and casing had to be purchased by the company printing the DVD.
  • A device has to create each disc, sometimes in a large batch. This takes a lot of time when dealing with mass quantities of copies.
  • There are tens of thousands of copies that must be made.
  • Each disc has to be stored in a warehouse and shipped by a shipping company, to every location that requires copies (such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc.).
  • Those copies must then sit in those warehouses, taking up space and needing someone to physically handle them to get it out to a customer.

Logically, you would think that the DVD version would be more expensive just based on these facts alone. However, there is more that isn’t being considered. The DVD may come with extra features that the Digital Copy does not. Also, the DVD comes with the Digital HD copy which Amazon and Vudu are currently selling for $19.99. Taking all of this into account, you’d expect the DVD to run much higher than the digital copy alone, right?

Nope, it’s $14.99.

This makes no sense to me. Why is the copy which has to be physically created, stored, and shipped, less than the digital copy that it’s made from? And contains! It seems that the Digital HD version should be cheaper than the DVD version rather than more expensive. In fact, since $14.99 is the starting point for the DVD, shouldn’t the Digital HD version be, say, $9.99?

Somehow, the same product is less expensive when more is added to it.

I suppose this means I’ll be buying most of my movies on DVD, further increasing the ridiculous size of my movie collection. I likely won’t watch the DVD version though, instead opting to view the Digital HD version instead. It’s more convenient. I’ll leave the DVD for when I want to watch the special features not included with the Digital HD version.