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APAR's WORKING WEEKEND: The WorldWideScreen Is Getting Bigger, and Smaller

9 Feb, 2001 By: Bruce Apar

"Think global, act local" is a business aphorism popularized in recent years as a pithy reminder to look at the big picture before figuring how to make things work better in your own little corner of the world. The advice can also be construed as cautionary: stay within your limits and core competency but don’t be too provincial. Try to stay in touch with the outside world as a reality check.

That advice would serve well one retailer who wrote a letter to Video Store that you can read in next week’s issue. The degree to which this person was misinformed about the most fundamental tenet of video retailing -– First Sale –- admittedly left us speechless. The writer suggests that suppliers should exert control over the length of retailers’ rental periods. Not his own rental periods, of course, only his competitors’.

As with that extreme example, thinking global can mean simply knowing the basics of the business you’re in. Acting local is knowing how to apply them to your particular situation.

On a more literal scale, Video Store is thinking global by introducing a far-reaching, regular feature called WorldWideScreen, dedicated to reporting on home entertainment from America to Australia. By telescoping international coverage in this special department, our focus is to help readers everywhere add a world view to their own, local business.

American retailers who have mastered the art of networking -- through the Video Software Dealers Association and elsewhere -- already appreciate the value of sharing information with their counterparts from other U.S. markets.

Increasingly, telecommunications technology, especially the Internet, is making it easier and more advisable for video professionals to get together whether they reside in different counties or countries.

The closer we pay attention to how the business of home entertainment behaves in international territories, the more obvious it becomesthat merchants and suppliers the world over are not worlds apart.

In the United Kingdom, who else but Blockbuster has just gained more market share, snapping up another chain, Apollo. And like their American counterparts, British stores are grappling with revenue-sharing and the growth of DVD. On the other hand, Co Mast of retail chain Video Vision in The Netherlands tells us that revenue sharing works just fine for him.

Some countries can prove foreign even to Blockbuster. Pioneering American video retailer Jack Messer, a former VSDA president, gave the behemoth some big blues in Poland, where he runs a chain of stores named -- in the tradition of Philadelphia-based West Coast Video and Portland-based Hollywood Video -- Beverly Hills Video. Blockbuster stores veni, vidi, vanished.

The studios, of course, are global, too. U.S. distribution and Disney veteran Matt Brown moved from New England to Olde England to head international business for DreamWorks Home Entertainment. When we ran into him there on a recent trip, he told us he’s having a bloody good time selling hits like Gladiator.

It often happens that policies not yet known in the United States are first introduced in international territories. Rental-priced DVDs from Buena Vista, Fox and Universal are causing a stir among U.K. retailers, while here the jury is out on the wisdom of a DVD rental window.

Two British faces familiar to many American video cousins are Vidbiz's Michael Senker, and Prime Time's Chris Simpson, frequent visitors to these shores to take our temperature regarding rental policies and politics. In fact, for years they have accurately predicted video trends in America -- including the adoption of copy-depth programs and the disappearance of studio exhibits at the VSDA convention -- based on studio decisions in their homeland.

All of the retailers mentioned above form a grassroots international alliance, that also includes Kevin Jellard of Australia's Movie Plus, that we will be consulting as an advisory board for WorldWideScreen.

To launch this ambitious round of global coverage, we are proud to align ourselves with the U.K.'s leading publisher of business-to-business home entertainment periodicals, Bleeding Edge/Columbus Group, a division of Highbury House. We will be working closely with Bleeding Edge editorial director Tim Murray to develop the most comprehensive international reports on home entertainment the world has ever seen.

After all, the goal is the same in every tongue: satisfy the customer and turn a profit. Hasta la vista.

Comments? Contact Bruce directly at:bapar@advanstar.com

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