The Growing Home Video Marketing Pressure Cooker29 Feb, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik
Just last week it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and Regal CineMedia Corp., the largest theater operator in the world, had struck a deal where Sony would provide promotional content for Regal's pre-feature program, “The 2wenty” — you know, that 20 minutes of stuff you watch with the lights still up before the 15 minutes of previews. Part of that agreement will include content developed from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment and, presumably, from its current and upcoming home video titles.
“In a highly competitive and increasingly cluttered media environment, we believe this is a great opportunity to reach out directly to our customers,” said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of SPE, in making the announcement.
It is getting to be a very noisy entertainment marketing environment every week now as home video joins theatrical in anticipating that a movie's first or second week in video (as in theatrical) will generate 50 percent or more of its projected total revenue. That means the marketing push up to that street date is fierce and getting more expensive as DVD becomes an even greater portion of the studio revenue pie.
You can't turn on your TV, open your newspaper or any entertainment magazine and not see advertising for the latest major theatrical release coming to DVD. In certain markets there are billboards aplenty as well. This latest effort by Sony to reach the movie-going public in their theater seats is just the latest maneuver in a home video marketing struggle that is sure to get more intense. Not only are the stakes bigger for studios now on ensuring that the home video release performs well in its ever more limited time in the retail spotlight, studios are putting out more product from the catalogues and these releases, too, must fight for consumer attention in between the barrage of marketing for other videos, films, new video game releases and TV shows.
In Thomas K. Arnold's cover story in this week's edition of Video Store Magazine on DVD marketing, home video executives acknowledge that the marketing budgets for home video releases are growing significantly — as high as $10 million or more in costs for a major title. Couple that with the need to ensure that timing one's street date is getting ever more complicated as the field gets more crowded, and the pressure must be higher to return on those big marketing dollars being bet each week on what is now a year-round sellthrough business.
I don't envy those senior home video execs making the big bucks. What was a somewhat sleepy industry in the latter VHS, pre-DVD years is now a big-time pressure cooker with the eyes of not only the studios heads on you but the business press as well, tracking home video unit success and failures with a microscope.