Home video is a blanket term used for pre-recorded media that is either sold or rented/hired for home cinema entertainment. The term originates from the VHS/Betamax era, when the predominant medium was videotape, but has carried over into current optical disc formats like DVD and Blu-ray Disc and, to a lesser extent, into methods of digital distribution such as Netflix.
The home video business distributes films, telemovies and television series in the form of videos in various formats to the public. These are either bought or rented, then watched privately from the comfort of home by consumers. Most theatrically released films are now released on digital media, both optical (DVD or Blu-ray) and download-based, replacing the largely obsolete VHS (Video Home System) medium. The VCD format remains popular in Asia, though DVDs are gradually gaining popularity.
Prior to the advent of home video as a popular medium in the late 1970s, most feature films were inaccessible after their theatrical runs for the general public. They were only viewable in theatrical re-releases, revival houses and television broadcasts. Super8 versions (often heavily edited) of some of the more popular theatrical features were sold at high prices since the late 1960s (see section Packaged movies at Super 8 mm film).
The first company to duplicate and distribute home video was Magnetic Video, established as an audio and video duplication service for professional audio and television corporations in Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA, in 1968. Although Avco's 1972 Cartrivision system preceded Magnetic Vision's expansion into home video by a few years, it took until the late 1970s that VHS and Betamax became widely available for home use. Major United States players in the video rental business today include Netflix.
Special-interest video production 
Until the mid-1980s feature film theatrical releases such as The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, or Casablanca were the mainstay of video marketing and helmed by large studios like Universal, 20th Century Fox and Disney. At that time, not many consumers owned a VCR, and those who did tended to rent rather than buy videos. Toward the end of that decade, a rise of smaller companies began creating special interest videos, also known as "non-theatrical programming" and "alternative programming," and "selling-through" to the consumer.
"Home video is an exciting new area of opportunity for adventuresome publishers willing to produce new programs. Today's limitations within the video marketplace may be gone tomorrow. More people are finding innovative ways to create visually stimulating entertainment and information for the video tape player... Like contemporary book publishing, you can produce and distribute yourself to very narrow markets or seek broad-based distributors for mass-oriented appeal"
Special Interest Video is a huge and steadily increasing venue for products exposing new and old subjects through the medium of camera and tape. It is a new form of publishing, a specialty line of products for vertical "readership" and an exploding territory of subjects, audiences and new uses. Six years ago, dog handling videos, back pain videos and cooking videos were suppositions on a drawing board. Three years ago these took life. Now, along with golf and skiing tapes these S.I. videos are beginning to claim a marketshare. The wild part of this new video publishing adventure is the wide diversity of support with which each product comes to the market. New technology has changed the territory.
"Cambridge Associates puts the growth of the special interest genre at close to 600% in the last five years, to $625 million in supplier revenues last year."
Time gap until home video release 
A time period is usually allowed to elapse between the end of theatrical release and the home video release to encourage movie theater patronage and discourage piracy. Home video release dates usually follow five or six months after the theatrical release, although recently more films have been arriving on video after three or four months. (Christmas and other holiday-related movies are generally not released on home video until the following year when that holiday is celebrated again.)
TV programs 
Many television programs are now also available in complete seasons on DVD. It has become popular practice for defunct TV shows to be released to DVD one season at a time every few months, and active shows to be released on DVD after the end of each season. Prior to the television DVDs, most television shows were only viewable in syndication, or on limited 'best of' VHS releases of selected episodes. These copyrighted movies and programs generally have legal restrictions on them preventing them from (amongst other things) being shown in public venues, shown to other people for money, or copied for other than fair use purposes (although such ability is limited by some jurisdictionas and media formats: see below).
After the passage of the Video Recordings (Labelling) Act of 1985 in the United Kingdom, videotapes and other video recordings without a certification symbol from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) on their covers - or on the tapes themselves - were no longer allowed to be sold or displayed by rental shops. These tapes are called "Pre-Certs" (e.g., Pre-certification tapes). Recently these tapes have generated a cult following, due to their collectability.
There is great controversy about recent attempts to increase protections for rights owners using technical means such as Macrovision and CSS, and by the enactment of laws such as the DMCA, potentially hindering otherwise-lawful "fair-use" rights.
See also 
- Copyright law
- Film distribution
- Home cinema
- Video rental shop
- Videocassette recorder
- Categories and lists
- Category:Home video companies of the United States
- Category:Years in home video
- List of notable home video companies
- List of years in home video