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Catalog Collapse Prediction Coming to Pass

2 May, 2006 By: Stephanie Prange

Looking at the latest DVD Release Report, it's becoming clear that the Goldman Sachs analysis released last fall was on target.

The catalog DVD gravy train has indeed slowed. DVD releases of pre-1997 theatrical features so far this year have fallen more than 30% behind the number of such titles released in 2005, from 515 in the first four months of 2005 to 360 titles for the comparable four months of this year.

On the bright side, new theatrical titles (released in 1997 and after) have surged in the beginning of the year, growing by almost a quarter (23.7%), according to the DVD Release Report. But that surge can't hope to make up for the falloff in catalog sales, and many of those films have been pushed to market early, leaving a possible gap in the middle of the year.

Last year, TV DVD sales saved the business in the middle of the year, as many hits were crammed into the beginning and middle of 2005. But that sector, while still strong, doesn't seem to have the same growth in it this year. The DVD Release Report notes flat growth in the sector in the first four months of 2006.

What now?

Obviously, studios have been looking to other formats and delivery options, from Universal Media Disc to high-definition packaged media to video-on-demand to fill the void left by the falloff in DVD catalog sales.

The winner: the combination of delivery options that maximizes revenue for the studio. I'm just not sure that the studios will ever again see the kind of windfall in revenue they saw with catalog on DVD.

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