'VIDEO killed the radio star’ according to that once familiar pop song but what’s now killing them off — or at least badly wounding — the latest incarnation of the home theatre phenomenon that swept the world?
Home entertainment on the small screen in Lithgow is about to face a new challenge with the announcement that Video Ezy will be closing its doors at the end of this month after more than three decades of operation.
Video Ezy at the Valley Plaza is Lithgow’s only full scale video library.
‘Video’ is something of a misnomer these days as the last of the VHS video cartridges disappeared from the outlets a couple of years back to be complete the transition to DVDs.
But now the community’s love affair with DVDs is also apparently waning.
Bill and Irene Goulding have been the proprietors of the local outlet for 25 years and say that for most of that quarter century it was a good business.
But over the past 18 months they have watched as the unforgiving hand of technological change has impacted on people’s home entertainment habits.
“People are not watching DVDs in the volumes they once did,” Bill Goulding said.
“Until not that long ago we had a book full of reservations on Saturday nights. Now it’s just a trickle.”
And that Saturday night trickle is repeated in reduced demand during the week.
So what’s going on?
According to Bill Goulding the rot began with the availability of movies on the internet — even though many of his customers say they don’t enjoy viewing on a computer screen.
“Legally or otherwise they are able to download new releases before they’re even available to the video libraries,” he said.
But the downward trend gained pace with the completion of the changeover to digital TV which enabled viewers, for better or for worse, to have access to many more free to air channels.
The result is that the volume of borrowings has fallen to a level where it is increasingly difficult to pay staff, rentals and other costs.
Video Ezy expects to close at the end of this month.
This will leave borrowers with few options.
Woolworths has a self serve video dispensing machine with limited titles and it is expected similar units will be installed at the plaza.
The Lithgow Library Learning Centre also has a reasonable number of DVDs for borrowing, mainly older classics and no new releases.
None can hope to match the 6500 titles available at Video Ezy.
Lithgow is not the only centre experiencing this social change with video libraries shutting their doors at a number of locations