Understanding DVD Region Encoding

12 November 2008

If you have ever traveled the world, you have probably noticed that once you leave North America, things tend to change a bit. Not only do you have to use different currency, but some counties have different electrical outlets that require a converter and some televisions broadcast in PAL instead of NTSC. Back in the 1980's, if you were to buy a VHS tape in Asia or in Europe and then try to play that tape on an American VCR, you would realize that they just aren't compatible. The same is true for DVDs. There are currently eight distinct regions for DVDs out there. Let's take a look at what all eight are and why there are different regions in the first place.

While it shouldn't come as a surprise, the main reason why DVD discs have different regions is because of money. Movie studios release films all over the world at different times, which means that they also release movies on DVD at different times. A movie could already be out on disc in the United States but still in the theatres in New Zealand. The movie studio would obviously lose quite a bit of cash if those DVDs made it into the New Zealand market because it would give consumers an option to not see the movie in theatres. In this case, the DVD would be encoded Region 1, which includes the United States and Canada as well as various United States territories and Bermuda, while New Zealand DVDs are encoded with Region 4.

The DVD regions are:

Region 1: The United States, Canada, US territories and the country of Bermuda

Region 2: Europe, Western Asia, Japan, Egypt, South Africa, French and British territories and Greenland

Region 3: South Korea, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Region 4: Oceania, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America

Region 5: South and Central Asia, Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Mongolia, North Korea

Region 6: All of Mainland China

Region 7: This region isn't assigned yet, but is currently used for advanced copies of DVDs shipped out by movie studios to the media and to movie critics for advanced screenings.

Region 8: All films seen on airplanes and cruise ships use Region 8.

There is one more region viewers can choose from. It is known as Region 0 or All Regions. A disc that has been set to Region 0 is viewable in every region on any DVD player. Any disc that is released that doesn't have any copyright restrictions on it can be set to region 0.

It is interesting to note that a DVD creator can set any DVD to any number of regions they wish. You can have a DVD that is set to regions 1 and 3 or 2 and 4 or any combination that the movie studio likes.

If you are planning on starting your own online business selling wholesale DVDs, it is important that you understand how regions work so that you always ship the right discs to the right regions.

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Voice Your Thoughts

  1. Kris Harte:

    Why would a Christmas movie made in the USA be only made on DVD for a different region say 2. Why are DVD’s not made for the USA public to buy?????

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