When DVDs first came on the market, small distributors where able to take unknown titles with unknown talent and make a profit selling in the dump bins at Wal-Mart. That's no longer the case with so many titles that have since flooded the market. Consumers are no longer willing to buy a discount DVD without a recognizable title or a star name.
Distributors can help independent filmmakers find a market for their films. Smaller distributors can get specialty films into venues like schools or museums to sell stock. Distributors know the market and can better steer the specialty films in the right direction. The panel did stress it was important that DVD distribution not be the only avenue to create a revenue stream. Online distribution is important to supplement earnings.
Cooper's post also stated that all panelists agreed that DVDs were not going anywhere anytime soon. There would probably be a collaboration of a hard copy DVD with multiple formats and online release of a product. Panelists seem to believe that consumers like the hard copy of a DVD with accompanying liner notes and supplemental information.