South Street TLA video to close soon

    TLA Entertainment, which also owns three other stores, is struggling to compete with the emerging market of online videos.

    TLA Video on South Street in Philadelphia will close its doors next month. The store, with its famed collection of art house films as well as major Hollywood releases, has been an institution in Philadelphia for nearly a quarter century. TLA Entertainment, which also owns three other stores, is struggling to compete with the emerging market of online videos.

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    TLA Entertainment is trying to make the transition, the video rental operator now has an online movie player where for a small fee you can watch them on your home computer.

    But co-founder Claire Kohler says it’s no way to make money, yet.

    Kohler: The profit margin is very narrow and the technology is only slowly getting there, so sadly, we’re caught in that middle ground where you can see the future, but it’s not profitable enough.

    Still, larger companies are willing to take a chance on online players.

    This week, Comcast released its plan to start offering content through an online player that would be included with the Comcast TV cable package. The player would only show those channels customers already order.

    Poynter Institute Media Analyst Al Tompkins says the exclusive online video players could also attract advertisers, if they can deliver the audience.

    Tompkins: The advertisers need to know, first of all they need to know that there are going to be enough people, they need to know that they’re the right people – they hit the demographics that the advertisers are looking for. So far, they just haven’t hit a critical mass yet.

    If that critical mass happens, Tompkins says, viewers shouldn’t be surprised by having to pay for online videos.

    Tompkins: That’s exactly what happened with music is at the same time that there was a big crackdown on illegal file transfers, there was this new thing that we now know as iTunes, which offered the same material legally.

    Tompkins says at that point, coming up with the right pricing model will be key to the medium’s success.

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