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The Wave of TV DVD Will Get Bigger

26 Oct, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

The wave of TV programming appearing on DVD this year (it’s the fastest-growing genre in DVD units sold by far) was certainly the impetus behind last week’s TV DVD Conference sponsored by Video Store Magazine, and by most accounts, this is a business that still has tremendous growth opportunity.

VSM market research estimates that sales of TV DVD product will reach $1.46 billion this year. According to the DVD Release Report, some 416 TV DVD titles have been released this year, up from 278 last year. There are more than 40 TV DVD boxed sets coming out between now and the end of the year alone, spanning everything from “Battlestar Galactica” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Friends,” “The Monkees,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and everything in between.

This renewable source of programming is truly a goldmine for DVD because it comes with a loyal (sometimes rabidly loyal) fan base, and, in the case of current hit shows or shows in syndication, regular exposure of the “brand” on a weekly or daily basis on broadcast and cable TV. But it goes beyond current shows, and we’re seeing such historical hits like “Taxi” and “Charlie’s Angels” come back to life in DVD as well as such shorter lived series like “The Hitchhiker” and “Wiseguy,” to name, obviously, but a few.

Executives speaking at the conference last week didn’t have empirical data to support exactly what people do with these multidisc sets, priced at $35 and above on average (some more than $100) containing hours and hours of shows, but the anecdotal evidence shows that it includes new series fans who want to catch up to the current episodes, loyal fans who want to re-watch their favorite episodes (and relive their childhoods in some case),to people using these discs as historical reference for characters and plot lines of series they are currently watching.

But there are challenges to be faced, not the least of which is trying to gauge just how much of a market potential each of these series has. No hard and fast formulas exist, but instead it can be a combination of such things as Nielsen ratings, Web site activity around a particular brand, and consumer polling to see just how much of a demand there is for, say “Car 54” (a particular favorite of VSM publisher Don Rosenberg’s.

A major issue that VSM brought to the fore only last week, was the great difficulty, and sometimes onerous expense, in securing the music rights for the DVD publication of TV shows. It is an issue that causes producers to sometimes change music on the DVD entirely or simply put aside a projected releases. One solution will be for a more proactive DVD rights clearances effort by TV producers when a show is first put together.

The possible short-term impact of DVD recording machines and personal video recorders generated only moderate concern from presenters, who generally saw this as a three- to five-year issue. But these issues far outweigh the rosy future of TV DVD.

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