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DVD's Unrelenting Pace Continues During the Holidays

14 Dec, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

The number of DVD releases is growing at an unrelenting pace as major studios with big vaults launch fusillades of catalog titles in between the theatrical hits. And secondary suppliers with a raft of lesser theatrical titles and a world of special interest programming continue to seek niche audiences in the growing DVD culture.

It's no different this holiday season as some 74 holiday-themed titles were released in time for shoppers' heyday (see cover story). It's a mind-boggling wealth of titles to choose from, and it points to the challenge that retailers of all shapes and sizes are going to continue to face in terms of product selection and merchandising as suppliers ratchet up their releases to maximize the continuing growth in DVD purchasing.

According to a recent DVD Release Report, the industry has delivered more than 30,000 DVD titles into the marketplace since the format's inception (not including adult). It took the industry only 58 weeks to reach the last 10,000 titles, according to the DVD Release Report, so you can see how much the pace has quickened as the format has reached critical mass.

Retailers continue to create more space for these releases (which right now comes at the expense of VHS) and, if they can, find new ways to make the burgeoning selection stand out so customers can find the titles.

I did a quick check of a couple of stores in my area (one independent and two chains) and was underwhelmed by the effort to merchandise what I thought might be a record year for holiday-themed titles. The indie had no display whatsoever dedicated to holiday-themed videos, and the two chains each offered fairly meager endcaps sporting about a dozen titles.

Now it may very well be that a majority of independents and chain store managers in other areas did more with the holiday product, but I have to wonder if retailers are becoming too maxed out with new releases to be able to find the space (and the time) to make much of anything stand out these days other than the blockbuster new releases. That means that the usual challenge for customers -- finding that neat, lesser-known but just as entertaining title -- is getting increasingly more difficult.

It's clear this onslaught of titles we're seeing will continue to squeeze shelf space.

Meanwhile, retailers need to continue to reassess their merchandising and find as many opportunities to build not just price-driven displays but better themed efforts and other creative approaches to bring out those titles for customers to find and buy or rent -- because there are still plenty of unreleased titles in studio vaults.

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