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APAR's WORKING WEEKEND: Tuning Into the Customer Channel

20 Jul, 2001 By: Bruce Apar

In today’s video industry, the more things change, the more theycontinue to change.

Some changes in distribution are obviously wrenching, such as last week’s news about Ingram Entertainment downsizing in the face ofcopy-depth programs that encourage sideways selling between retailers.

Other changes are more benign in form, but no less significant. We’re thinking in particular about several of our stories reported in this week’s pages.

Sony Music’s taking over retail distribution of the World Wrestling Federation’s line of VHS and DVD products pushes that sports line closerto the marketing and distribution models the music business uses and away from the rental sphere.

Sony Music Distribution senior v.p. David Pierce told us, “We’re in the business of local market event promotion, so with WWF’s live eventsand expertise in brand marketing, it’s a perfect overlay to our existingvideo system.”

He noted that Sony’s direct relationships with retailers will result in better placement and incremental sales for WWF.

There are even more direct implications in the new label for Major League Baseball videos, Q Video, part of the QVC home shopping channel.Q Video has retail distribution via Warner/Elektra/Atlantic (WEA) Corp., but MLB’s pitch is that a powerful direct-response vehicle like QVC willdrive sales at storefronts as well. That strategy is encouraging to the extent that it suggests collaborative ways electronic media and physicaldistribution can feed each other.

Another example of online driving inline business is Netflix’s using Wherehouse stores as an outlet for its previously-rented DVD stock. And now the VSDA, in a bold and welcome move, has added an executive from etailer Amazon.com to its board of directors.

Most direct is Sony Pictures’ and Warner’s signing up with a digital service that purports to send movies and other content direct to homes.Where brick-and-mortar retailers might fit into that futuristic customer channel is a picture that is far from clear.

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

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