Street Date Violations

What is a street date?

The "street date" is an industry term for the official designated date when Video Products (videocassettes and DVD's) of a film can be made available to consumers. A film's street date is determined and announced by the film company. Just as the studios control the theatrical release dates of a motion picture film, they also designate the street date release for home video sales and rentals. Each studio has its own policies on street dates and each studio enforces its own street date policies. Street date commitments are a term of the contract between the studio, distributors and video retailers for the sale and rental of video products.

Setting firm street dates allows film companies and their distributors to promote and market their films effectively and to provide retailers with a fair, level playing field. A common street date provides that in Canada and the U.S., from the smallest retailers to the largest superstore chains, new releases are made available on the identical street date. The street date applies to all retailers including video specialty stores, mass merchandisers, supermarkets, etc. 
Due to differences in shipping and mail deliveries, retailers quite often receive new releases at different times. Retailers with multiple locations may receive an early delivery in order for them to ship copies to their respective locations. On the other hand, a retailer with only one store typically receives his new releases on the street date or perhaps a day earlier. The street date is designed to protect those retailers who receive their product later from being unfairly disadvantaged by retailers who violate the street date.

Street date violations hurt honest retailers

Retailers who offer new release video products to their customers before the official street date do so unfairly and hurt other retailers who abide by their contractual commitments by obeying the street date designated by the studio. Retailers who jump the gun steal revenue directly from their competitors by selling or renting videos to consumers who rent there because another retailer is honouring the street date.

Reporting street date violations

The studios have strict policies regarding street date violations. Video retailers who play by the rules are understandably the best source of information on this type of complaint. Retailers are encouraged to contact the sales reps they deal with and the studio whose title(s) are involved. They will need the name, address and telephone number of the offending store, the video titles involved and the exact date that the offending product was being rented, sold or on display.

To further expidite a resolution for this type of complaint, retailers are urged to provide a dated rental or sales receipt from the offending store for the title(s) involved.

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© Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA), 2006. All rights reserved.