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Lionsgate sells TV shows online before DVD

DIGITAL: Weeds, Mad Men available for download months earlier than disc release

By Jennifer Netherby -- Video Business, 12/28/2009

DEC. 28 | DIGITAL: Lionsgate is selling full seasons of popular series Weeds and Mad Men on iTunes and Amazon Video On Demand months before their respective DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, but it’s unclear whether this signals a more aggressive digital push.

Weeds: Season 5 is selling on both sites weeks before its Jan. 19 disc release, and Mad Men: Season 3 is available on both sites three months ahead of its March 23 disc release.

Both seasons aired on TV this summer, Weeds on Showtime and Mad Men on AMC, and episodes were available for download the following day. Users also could sign up for season passes of the show, essentially buying a digital season at the time the TV show aired, common for TV shows offered through iTunes and digital competitors.

A Lionsgate spokeswoman said the strategy is nothing new and all network series follow the same release pattern. The Wall Street Journal highlighted it as an example in a story Monday on Hollywood’s bolder digital push.

It’s not uncommon for seasons of TV shows to be available digitally months before their disc release.

The first half of the first season of Fox hit Glee debuts on DVD tomorrow but is already available on iTunes and Amazon for download, where customers can buy by episode or sign up for a season pass that includes upcoming episodes from the second half of season one. The final season of Lost, set to begin airing in February on ABC, is already available for a season pass on iTunes for $39.99 in high-definition, with episodes available as soon as they air.

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