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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Are Retailers Anticipating an Uptick in DVD Business From Seniors?

29 Mar, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The woes of the nation's movie theater chains are far from over. I just heard that a top credit agency is doubtful theater owners, beleaguered by screen closures and bankruptcies, will recover anytime soon because the population is aging and old people don't go to the movies much.

"While shuttered theaters may remove some excess screens and provide some relief to the beleaguered industry, long-term demographics are also running against the industry," Moody's Investors Service said last week.

Moody's noted that people over the age of 60, who now account for 20% of the population, only account for 8% of box office spending, and that this age group will double in population by 2030, meaning that "the number of likely theatergoers may decrease."

I tend to agree with that assessment -- and further opine that this older audience will be one of the prime growth areas for DVD.

As the population continues to age and home entertainment options continue to increase, we're going to see more and more cocooning. My own parents are 79 and 81, and they never go out at night anymore -- they don't trust their eyesight, and there are far too many wacky young people on the road, they say.

They haven't been to a movie theater in at least 15 years, but they sure watch a lot of rented movies at home --especially since my dad got a DVD player last September as a birthday gift.

The great thing about DVD is that so many of the older movies my parents know and love are seeing the light of day for the first time in years -- prompting my parents, and other seniors like them, to rent or buy two or three discs at a time, instead of the one VHS they religiously brought home every week.

My own experience makes me wonder if retailers are starting to see, or anticipating, any uptick in business from seniors. If so, then there's a whole new generation of previously underserved consumers out there, and home entertainment's future appears all the brigher because of it.

This is also a generation not prone to download. My dad, for example, knows DVD menus inside and out -- and yet he's never even been on the Web.

Readers, I invite you to respond.

Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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