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Finishing First

14 Sep, 2014 By: Angelique Flores

Another disc fitness market share leader has emerged, after years of domination by Gaiam and Lionsgate.

For the first time since Nielsen has been tracking sales, Anchor Bay Entertainment is No. 1 in market share for fitness disc for year-to-date sales through the first half of the year.

“We have more best-sellers in the top 20, the top 35 and the top 50 than any other studio in the category,” said Bill Clark, president of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

As of June 8, 2014, Anchor Bay holds 36.46% of the fitness DVD market share for 2014, Gaiam comes in second with 34.86% and Lionsgate trails behind at No. 3 with 15.42%, according to Nielsen VideoScan.

“We’ve had a six-point market share gain over the last year and a half,” Clark said. “We know it’s not a seasonality issue either because last year in the same time frame it was Anchor Bay 32.56%, Gaiam 38.70% and Lionsgate 17.08%.”

Anchor Bay’s Clark attributes the shift to the company’s attention to and development of its more-successful fitness brands, as well to maintaining a hold on shelf space.

“Anchor Bay is focused, aggressive and strategic in our development of proprietary brands and our acquisition of key brands,” Clark said. “We work closely with our retail accounts to maximize opportunities. This category is an important part of our overall portfolio, and we dedicate time and effort on driving the business forward. It is clearly paying off. While our competitors may be more interested in celebrities and trendy classes, we’ve made the conscious decision to stick to what we know works for us, our accounts and their customers.”

One brand that Anchor Bay has focused on is Weight Watchers. The distributor has leveraged Weight Watchers’ licensees to maximize value and drive bigger in-store programs, including cross promotions, coupon books and other partnerships, Clark said.

“Also, we listen to what the retailers see as opportunities, and we are able to act quickly because we control our own properties,” he said. “We can work on solutions and test new opportunities because we have our own proprietary brands that are successful in the marketplace.”

Anchor Bay’s fitness market share has been steadily growing since 2011, when it was at 28.94%, Clark said.

The timing of Anchor Bay’s ascension in the disc realm has coincided with both Gaiam and Lionsgate’s shift toward digital over the past few years. Gaiam had been the No. 1 fitness market share leader since 2010.

While Anchor Bay has been keenly concentrating on packaged media, Gaiam has been focused on increasing its footprint in the digital market since 2010, when it launched Gaiam TV, a subscription video-on-demand platform. The service offers more than 6,000 fitness and well-being videos for $9.95 a month. Many of these titles are also available on DVD as well as on iTunes for purchase. Programs include workouts from fitness superstar Jillian Michaels and popular yoga instructor Rodney Yee.

“We are also very focused on the growing demand for digital apps, subscription clubs (GaiamTV) and the rising consumer demand for digital-only content,” said Susan Haney, SVP of marketing for Gaiam.

The company has an upcoming digital-only exclusive for iTunes under its new “Yoga Rising” series, Haney said. The programs will be available Sept. 15.

Still, Gaiam hasn’t turned away from packaged media, which is still serving the company quite well. Last year, fitness DVDs helped the company post a profit during its fourth quarter.

“Our DVD sales still continue to be strong, and at our largest retailer, actually up in sales for the year,” CEO Lynn Powers said at the time during the company’s quarterly financial call in March 2013.

Haney said Gaiam will continue to make its content available on DVD as long as the demand continues in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate — which has been among the top-ranking fitness distributors in the past several years — has shifted its efforts to BeFit, the studio’s fitness and health channel on YouTube. BeFit launched in 2012 and surpassed 1 million subscribers in May. The channel offers a variety of series with content ranging from yoga, cross-training and dance workouts to fitness tips and information.

“The way people consume fitness content is rapidly evolving, and we are at the forefront of that evolution,” Kajsa Vikman, GM and SVP of marketing for Lionsgate, said in May. “Our mission is to provide ‘Workouts That Work,’ available to everyone, anywhere at any time.”

Content from some of Lionsgate’s fitness DVDs — including videos from Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin and Jane Fonda — is available on YouTube. However, much of the BeFit Videos are exclusive and free to consumers, supported by advertising.

Lionsgate cross-promotes its online community with its fitness DVDs, adding trailers for the channel and inserts in its DVDs. And in turn, with video clips of its catalog DVDs online, Lionsgate has previously seen a boost in DVD sales from those trainers and brands, Vikman said in a January 2013 interview.

While Gaiam and Lionsgate have been busy developing their digital platforms, Anchor Bay has been touting popular brands on DVD and growing its footprint at retail. Still, Anchor Bay’s bigger take of the fitness pie doesn’t necessarily mean the distributor is just releasing more titles. Some fitness distributors tout the number of titles it can crank out in year, but not so with Anchor Bay. Compared with 2013, Anchor Bay has actually released significantly fewer titles so far, Clark said.

“We have always sought to grow our market share by having a bigger percentage of the best-sellers — not by having more titles overall,” Clark said.

But being selective obviously hasn’t hurt its market share or its allocation of shelf space. As the company continues to develop consistently successful releases — especially in the Leslie Sansone and Element brands — a larger percentage of Anchor Bay’s titles are still making the cut on shrinking retail shelf space as compared with the competition’s, Clark said.

Growth of Anchor Bay’s Element brand, which is mostly yoga and Pilates workouts, has soared. From 2011 to 2013, the 6-year-old fitness line has mushroomed 42.9%, Clark said.

“It’s gone from being carried seasonally to being a year-round best-selling brand at retail,” Clark said.

Another of Anchor Bay’s top-selling fitness brands is Leslie Sansone, which features walking workouts. Sales for the line grew 11% in 2013 over 2012.

“In the past [Sansone’s] products came from a few different studios,” Clark said. “Now, almost all of what’s on the shelves are her newer titles from Anchor Bay. That’s a win for the consumers since there isn’t as much consumer confusion about what is truly new and what is repackaged and something they might previously have owned.”

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