DVD vs. Online Training Delivery — Online is Cheaper

Continuing education vendor Suncam charged $50 for DVDs, and offered the same video for free via streaming. Which cost more? The DVDs, even after the $50.

SunCam is a Florida company and consulting client that provides continuing education courses and related certification tests in a range of disciplines, including engineering, construction, surveying, project management and others. Some courses are taught via downloadable textual materials, others through videos that used to be exclusively delivered via DVD.

I first worked with SunCam in 2011, converting several DVDs to a group of adaptive files in an engagement that produced a series of how to articles published on OnlineVideo.net. Recently, I encoded another course for the company.

I was curious about how the streaming courses were doing compared to the previous practice of shipping DVDs (for which they charged $50), so I asked company president Bill Dunn:

“How is streaming working out for you in general? Better than DVDs? Save you money? Cost more?  Let me know if you have a minute.”

Bill replied,

“We offer the streaming video for free so not many buy the DVDs for $50. Amazon bills us about $15 per month for all of the streaming and course document downloads. It is literally just pennies per viewing for a 200-minute video.

We would rather deliver all products via the Internet and may not even produce DVDs in the future. It costs more to mail and produce a DVD than we make on it and we have to collect Florida sales tax when we sell one. Everything else in our store is “intangible goods” and not subject to tax. It would be nice to eliminate the monthly filings with the Department of Revenue.

We are running a special on one of the courses that you helped us with 2-years ago. http://del2.com/view/2bf614b/

I just did a Google search for DVD training materials and got 64.6 million hits. While I didn’t scan each entry (har, har), apparently there are lots of folks still selling DVDs for training. All business models are different; SunCam can give the video away because they charge for the certifications. So Bill’s model may not work for everyone.

But if you are still selling DVDs, you ought to at least consider offering them online. You probably will be able to sell the streaming videos for a lot less money and still make the same margin. The aforementioned how to articles should give you some idea about the process, and if you have any questions, send me a note at jozer@mindspring.com.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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