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Warner Promo First of Many Catalog Salvos?

11 May, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

Warner Home Video has always been a leader in the release of catalog into the sellthrough video business, especially with the advent of DVD. According to the most recent DVD Release Report Warner has released some 439 catalog titles onto DVD, trailing only MGM's 589.

But with DVD player consoles expected to reach the 50 million U.S. household milestone this year, it may not be surprising to see those studios with a deep catalog kick things up a notch in marketing those titles to an ever widening mass market of DVD consumers.

Last Friday Warner Home Video announced a new and corporate-leveraged effort to grab the hearts and minds of these 50 million households with its “DVD Decision 2003” promotion (see our story posted on this web site Friday). Basically the idea is to have consumers vote for which five of 20 selected classic movies Warner will release on home video in special single disc offerings next January.

Warner is leveraging several of its other media properties, America Online and the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, to drive the promotion for its home video unit. Votes will be cast on AOL between June 2 and July 1. TCM will air all 20 movies between June 23 – 27. According to Mike Saksa, SVP of marketing at Warner Home Video, it's the first time AOL/Time Warner has called on these two major media sources to help fuel home video marketing and sales. Of course, home video is the darling of the entertainment industry these days so it all makes complete sense. And it'll be a terrific opportunity for retailers.

With each leap of household penetration of DVD players a new and significant market is growing for all genres and types of programming on DVD; these are people who are buying everything to feed their hungry new machines. But another factor to consider is that at 50 million households, you are also now dealing with the beginning of some market maturation, if you can believe that. Even at the young age of 5 years, the adoption rate of DVD has been so incredible that there are people who may be nearing their saturation point of movies they want (or have room) to own. So if you have a lot of ammunition in your catalog cannons, you'd best get to firing before it's too late.

I would not be surprised to see a real strong move in the next 12 months to a higher flow of catalog product by those that have a lot of catalog that they can (and need to) release on DVD while the getting is still good and strong. According to Warner, it has maybe 2,500 viable titles for DVD release, so if they are counting the 439 or so they have already released over the past 5 years, which leaves them with about 2,000 to go. Naturally, they're going to have to step things up a tad or risk having titles in the vault that may not realize the kind of sellthrough potential that a younger, less mature market, might absorb with more gusto.

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