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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Will DreamWorks Publicize Total Sales Numbers, VHS and DVD, for 'Shrek' When the Year's Biggest Movie Hits Stores Next Week?

25 Oct, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

With the flurry of press releases touting out-of-the-gate DVD sales, onething has been conspicuously absent: VHS numbers.

True, three of the big fourth-quarter releases so far have been DVD-only, but I for one would welcome a press release from a studio giving me total sales numbers, for VHS and DVD combined -- something I hope DreamWorks will do nextweek when Shrek hits stores (it's likely to be the biggest seller all year onvideo).

Those who routinely read my column know I am a DVD booster. I love the format, and certainly believe it is the future of home entertainment.

But let's talk numbers, shall we? VCR penetration remains in excess of 90%, meaning there are upwards of 100 million households with avideocassette machine.

Even if DVD hits the stated goal of 25 million households by year's end, that's only a quarter of VCR penetration.

And while research has shown that DVD households are more rabid software buyers than VCR households, the sheer magnitude of the VHS market indicates there's plenty of life left in the poor old videocassette, and plenty ofsales just waiting to happen.

I wrote a "big picture" story for both Video Store Magazine and Hive4medialast week, detailing the new breed of movie collectors spurred on by DVD. But I also presented a most valid counterpoint that in case you missed it, I'd like to share with you again:

"Movies Unlimited, a Philadelphia-based concern that sells videos through themail, says total video sales for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 are up more than 23% from the previous fiscal year. But unlike most retailers whose business is up, president Jerry Frebowitz isn't pointing at DVD.

"Noting that DVD only represents 11% of his business, Frebowitz maintains consumer interest in VHS is at an all-time high. 'Consumers arestill buying and collecting VHS tapes,' he says. 'Our VHS business is way up. DVD is a very small percentage of the business, for us.'

"Frebowitz says he's concerned that publicity over DVD might prematurely killVHS, with studios as well as smaller, independent producers abandoning theformat despite continued consumer demand. 'I can't understand why the industry would want to do that,' he says. 'Let's say a guy only sells public-domain titles -- well, public domain doesn't sell in DVD. Neither doclassic movies.'

"Entertainment companies, Frebowitz maintains, 'gave 8-track a better chance than they're giving VHS, which has been good for them for so many years. I can't figure out why they would want to kill it.'"

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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