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Where have all the presidents gone?

10 Jan, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Shock and sadness accompany the surprising announcement Thursday that yet another veteran home video president, Eric Doctorow, is leaving.

Doctorow, the third studio video president to exit his post in the last month, is a smart business executive and a gifted marketing executive. While he's kept a low profile in recent years in keeping with the tone of what industry observers call "The [Jonathan] Dolgen Doctrine," Doctorow has assembled a remarkable track record in his 20-year stint at Paramount, the last 10 as president.

It was on Doctorow's watch that Paramount rang in the sellthrough era with below-$40 pricing of Wrath of Khan. It was on Doctorow's watch that Paramount shipped 30 million units of Titanic, setting a new VHS ship record. It was on Doctorow's watch that Paramount introduced virtually every price point in the sellthrough ladder, all the way down to $14.99. It was under Doctorow that Paramount entered the DVD arena (and promptly chalked up the

first million-selling disc with Titanic) and adopted VHS revenue-sharing with key retail accounts.

Personally, Doctorow is known for his great relationships, both with his staff and with retailers and distributors. He is an extremely talented marketer as well, with a long history of ambitious, cutting-edge and enormously successful catalog campaigns.

Under Doctorow, Paramount also became the first studio to abandon suggested retail prices in favor of minimum advertised prices. Doctorow ran a lean ship, with sharp cost controls and a heavy eye on profitability and margins.

And the successful joint venture with Universal Studios to distribute product internationally -- an area in which costs were also reduced through a seamless move of the joint venture's base of operations from overseas to Los Angeles -- underscored his savvy in global matters.

Doctorow also gets plaudits for Paramount's successful distribution of MTV, CBS and, in particular, Nickelodeon product in the home video arena. On his watch, Paramount elevated Nickeloeon product into a viable and popular brand at the mass merchant level -- something previous video distributors failed to even come close to achieving.

I should also say that Eric Doctorow is a long and dear friend of mine, dating back to the days when I was the rock critic at the Daily Aztec newspaper at San Diego State University and Eric was my college rep for Epic Records.

Take it from me, this is one smart, classy guy. Wherever he lands, his new employer will get a winner.

How do you think the recent top home video management changes at several major studios will affect the business?Talk About it Here!

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