There was a time when you lost your beloved television show forever after its final episode. If you were lucky, it would get the M*A*S*H or Cheers treatment, syndicated sometime, somewhere in the wee morning hours. Cable channels like Nickelodeon and TV Land eased the pain of those longing for a favorite defunct series. But things changed forever with the magic of DVD. Who could have known that the little disc would restore those treasured old episodes and — especially these days — some current loves, too. Viewers aren’t the only happy ones, either. The studios can’t seem to empty their archives — or fill their coffers — fast enough. In fact, television DVDs are the fastest growing segment of the DVD industry. They’re projected to bring in $2.3 billion this year, and some gleeful analysts think that’s only the beginning.

You can’t flip a channel these days without hearing about Seinfeld’s DVD release, yet another season of Friends out on the shelves, or Carnivale’s availability for rental. The Golden Girls has shuffled in, The O.C. is primping and preening, and fans are growing stubble for Miami Vice’s release in February.

DVDs have moved in on the small screen and the Search box. Among the top 50 TV searches spiking over the past week, we find a mix of current and retro shows and series available on DVD:

Boy Meets World (+438%)
That ’70s Show (+214%)
Northern Exposure (+102%)
Tom and Jerry (+96%)
Band of Brothers (+90%)
Bear in the Big House (+80%)
Fresh Prince of Bel Air (+65%)
I Love Lucy (+60%)
Cheers (+48%)
Little House on the Prairie (+46%)

[Via Yahoo! Buzz]