While thousands of movies and TV shows have been released on DVD or made available for streaming, a great many more are locked away in studio vaults.
The most popular Hollywood movies and television shows have been digitized and preserved on DVD and Blu-ray Discs. For those videos, producers can be assured of a return on their investment.
But older films and TV shows with, at best, a cult following have a less clear future.
The digital utopia of every movie ever made available over the Internet whenever and wherever you want seems more like a fantasy now.
The truth is that it can be expensive to clean up and digitize old movies and TV shows and prepare them for online streaming. And finding copies of some content can be difficult. Then there are issues associated with securing the proper rights to stream them. It’s a lot of work, as Netflix executive Ted Sarandos told me recently.
The website TVShowsOnDVD.com has a running list of the most popular TV shows not yet available on DVD. These shows aren’t available online either, as far as I know.
Here is the list of the most sought-after unreleased TV shows, based on user votes at TVShowsOnDVD.com:
The 10 most requested shows not yet on DVD
1. The Wonder Years (1988-93)
2. Batman (1966-69)
3. Salute Your Shorts (1991-92)
4. The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78)
5. Ed (2000-04)
6. Hey Dude (1989-91)
7. Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place (1998-2001)
8. China Beach (1988-91)
9. Homefront (1991-93)
10. You Can’t Do That on Television (1979-90)
The release of “The Wonder Years” on DVD is being held up by the high cost of securing the music licensing rights. The show, set in 1968-73, featured a lot of popular period music. For instance, its theme song is Joe Cocker’s cover of the Beatles song “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
The campy Adam West “Batman” series is caught in various rights disputes. Fox owns the TV footage, but Warner Bros owns the characters and trademarks, via its ownership of DC Comics. To release the show on DVD, Fox also needs to get the permission of on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent. Home video wasn’t a consideration when the contracts were written for the original TV series.
“The Six Million Dollar Man” is available internationally on DVD, but not in the U.S. Those foreign editions won't work on U.S.-coded DVD players. But Time Life expects to release the entire series in the U.S. in November.