My Two Cents
Wednesday, 25 October 2023 14:11

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Well, it’s been a big couple of weeks at The Bits, as detailed in Monday’s editorial here at the site. The response to that piece has been overwhelming—and overwhelmingly positive, I’m pleased to report. I’ve had a good number of people within the industry tell me they’ve been quietly (and no so quietly) cheering its message, hoping the powers that be at certain studios will listen.

One of the interesting side effects of the last couple of weeks is that it’s really highlighted some of the key challenges we face here at the site. The first is that so much of my time as editor of The Bits is dedicated to communicating with sources, researching stories, responding to everyone who wants to engage with us after we post major news or a big editorial, or simply dealing with behind-the-scenes issues, that it’s become hard for me to do all that effectively and still write Blu-ray and 4K reviews too. I have a stack of titles I keep trying to get to, but when a well-known filmmaker or high-level studio executive contacts me wanting to talk, you definitely can’t—and shouldn’t!—say no in my position.

The other problem was illustrated by what happened when we broke the news of Best Buy’s exit of the physical media business—the website simply couldn’t handle all the traffic we were getting! Off and on, from Thursday night (10/12) to the following Monday (10/16), the site simply wouldn’t load for some people or took a long time to load. That’s not a knock on our infrastructure, our server team, or our hosting company—99% of the time, there’s no problem at all. And they do an incredible job of managing all that in the face of ever more difficult cybersecurity challenges. It’s really rather shocking how difficult that problem has become—not just for The Bits but almost literally every website online. Frankly, it’s a wonder the Internet even still works at all. [Read on here...]

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But the bottom line is that running a website like The Digital Bits for twenty-six years takes an enormous amount of energy and manpower. Servers, server upgrades, bandwidth, nearly-constant software upgrades—none of these things come cheap. To say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of work hours required to research, write, edit, and share content, from columns and features to breaking news and reviews. We’ve been very fortunate at The Bits over the years, having been blessed with many great writers and contributors who have worked with dedication to cover this industry, share their love of film history, and review great discs mostly out of love and passion. But to do this full time, which is really what’s required to do our work justice, we need to eat and pay our bills just like anyone else.

Meanwhile, online advertising revenue has shifted dramatically from websites to social media services like Facebook, X/Twitter, and YouTube. And while one of our biggest advantages here at The Bits—and the main reason we’ve survived for so many years while retaining a high degree of respect from both industry insiders and our many readers, even as other websites have thrown in the towel—is that we’ve been able to cultivate unmatched sources, relationships, and a high degree of trust within the industry.

This is how we’re able to break news, like that Best Buy story. It’s how we’re able to point disc consumers in the right direction when they have problems with defective titles, or to help studios get the word out about release news or disc replacement programs. It’s why the studios have turned to us often over the years for advice on titles or features, or for our insights on what disc fans are looking for or concerned about. It’s how we’re privy to news of scores of great Blu-ray and 4K UHD titles that are in production, upcoming, or in the planning stages long before anyone else in this business. And it’s how we’re able to share all of that with you, our loyal readers.

No one has broken more significant news or word of upcoming titles than we have here at The Bits—and we’ve been doing it for more than a quarter of a century. The problem is, the moment we share that unique information, typically accompanied by our insight and perspective, every other website and social media influencer takes that information, re-writes it or re-formats it in their own way, and reports it as their own content. Often, they give us credit and a link back to our site, but sometimes they don’t. I certainly can’t fault them for their enthusiasm, and frankly I love that there are now so many people out there supporting the cause of physical media!

But in one egregious incident earlier this year, someone actually ripped video I personally shot (at Lightstorm, of producer Jon Landau answering my 4K questions) and re-upped it to all his social media feeds as his own “exclusive” scoop, all without a link back to us or proper credit. That’s not only unethical, it’s outright theft.

In other words, the moment we post a valuable piece of news or information as only we can, everyone else begins to monetize it at the same time we do! That’s just not sustainable for us. It makes it increasingly difficult for us to keep The Digital Bits going. Frankly, this problem is exactly why so many other great web sites and publications have gone under and disappeared over the years.

Now… we could certainly lock all of our content behind a paywall, but then we wouldn’t be as effective in supporting the very physical media we all love so much. We wouldn’t be able to support you our readers with news, information, and insights. And frankly, there would still be nothing to stop people from sharing our scoops and content widely online. We want people to share our content widely! But we also have to keep this website alive and pay our bills while doing so.

The Digital Bits generates the revenue it needs to survive and be sustainable in one of three ways:

  1. We make money from online advertising, through Google and especially our Freestar ad network partners.
  2. From disc and other product sales through our unique links as an Amazon affiliate.
  3. And from the donations of readers, both longtime fans and industry insiders (to date mostly via PayPal).

But because many of you have asked for it recently, we’ve finally created a fourth option—a Patreon (here’s the link) through which you can support our work. We have many different support levels available, from the cost of a Blu-ray or two a year, all the way up to options for studios and other companies to advertise on The Bits and sponsor the site. We’ll be creating exclusive Patreon content for our supporters there, including a regular and informal blog that I’ll be writing to offer supporters a look behind-the-scenes here at the site, and we’ll add other perks over time as we figure things out there.

Our goal is for The Digital Bits website to remain free for everyone to read and enjoy indefinitely. But to keep that so, we need your help.

My humble hope is that if you value our contributions to this industry, if you feel that we’ve made a difference in your life in some small way, or otherwise enriched your enjoyment of DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K, you’ll consider giving back a little to support our work in whatever way you can. You can help us to ensure that The Bits continues advocating for our favorite formats long into the future.

So please support our Patreon if you can! And if you can’t, please consider using one of our affiliate links (like this one) whenever you shop for literally anything on As an Amazon Affiliate, we earn a commission on anything you buy after doing so. It really does make a difference for us.

On behalf of all of us at The Digital Bits, it’s been an honor fighting the good fight for physical media for twenty-six years, and especially having each and every one of you as readers. Here’s to many more years to come!

Click here to Support The Bits via Patreon!

Stay tuned…

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)



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