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The iGroup a Hopeful First Step for IVRs

4 Apr, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

Last week's announcement by the VSDA of the creation of a new, separate organization for independent video retailers will no doubt be met with a wide range of reaction from retailers. But from what I have heard so far, I think it's fair to say, anecdotally, the consensus is “hopeful” that the new iGroup will do for IVRs what they have long hoped the VSDA would do: refocus on the needs of the IVR in an ever-changing, more competitive marketplace.

Whether or not you believe that the VSDA Board of Directors and staff, over the years, had slowly lost sight of the association's original mandate and had become more heavily influenced by large chains, this decision, which was unanimously approved by the VSDA board, should end that argument.

IVRs will now have an organization that is run by IVRs for IVRs, using a majority of the dues they pay for IVR programs and services delivered by iGroup. The iGroup basically splits the VSDA revenue base and controls that half of the funds for its own agenda as set by its own board of trustees made up of IVRs. Having already had a chance to talk to many of the iGroup trustees in Las Vegas, where they made their announcement, I can tell you they are excited to be in a position to truly help re-invigorate the IVR base in this industry, and they're committed to reaching out to the chapters and membership at large in the coming months for input on what they want from the iGroup. And, of course, there is hope that the creation of the iGroup will attract new and lapsed IVRs as members.

It's a clean slate, and all current IVR-related programs and services offered by the VSDA are on the table for discussion. It'll be interesting to see what comes of the formative efforts in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, the breakout of the iGroup eliminates the conflict in time and resources that was inherent in running one organization that was attempting to serve major rental and sellthrough chains and the smaller retailers who basically saw them as the enemy. Now the VSDA board (which will still have three members from the iGroup as board members) will be free to spend the majority of its time on such issues as legislative and legal industry advocacy and conducting research that the association's members can use to move the industry, and their own businesses, forward. These efforts benefit IVRs as well, which is why 25 percent of their dues will be used to help fund VSDA programs. (Conversely, 25 percent of associate dues from studios, distributors, etc., will be directed to the iGroup budget.)

The formation of the iGroup is an exciting and positive first step for the IVR community and one that can contribute to a more level playing field in the retail landscape, adding to the significant competitive benefits in ROI DVD has already delivered for small retailers.

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