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Will TV DVD Remain an Industry Darling?

14 Nov, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

While the growth of the overall DVD business is expected to slow to single digits in 2005, TV DVD is still turning industry heads with what is expected to be double-digit growth again this year.

Its star status was evident at last week's TV DVD 3 Conference in Marina del Rey, Calif. The conference was produced by Home Media Retailing, in cooperation with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and The Hollywood Reporter.

TV talent — including Donny Osmond, Jerry “The Beaver” Mathers, Linda Gray (“Dallas”), Christopher Knight (“The Brady Bunch,” “My Fair Brady”) and several top TV producers — showed up to give the disc its due. Researchers and execs, too, praised the channel's success.

It wasn't too long ago that the overall DVD market was getting similar kudos. It was a double-digit darling through about the middle of this year. What's interesting, if you look at the two segments, is that TV DVD growth is mirroring overall DVD growth — just at a later date. Inevitably, the TV DVD market will mature, just as the overall DVD market is doing right now.

But is it here to stay or just a fad?

Certainly, the number of video-on-demand services offering TV episodes is taking off, satisfying some of the demand of viewers who need to catch up on their favorite TV shows. If you miss an episode of “Lost,” you can pick it up on iTunes and catch up. But catching up is not the only reason consumers buy TV DVD sets.

Only about a fifth of TV DVD buyers say they pick up the product because they missed an episode, according to Home Media Research. Certainly that segment of buyers may be cannibalized by VOD. But that's only the third most popular reason buyers pick up TV DVD. A little more than half (51 percent) of consumers buy TV DVD because they want to own the content, and about a third (35 percent) want to see the series again.

Monday, Time Warner announced that America Online broadband subscribers would be able to view episodes of old shows such as “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “Chico and the Man” and other classics. While that may seem to be a blow to classic TV DVD collections, I doubt it. The episodes are more likely to boost buys of entire TV DVD seasons. Folks who've never seen the series and get hooked or who recall their love of the series by watching a few episodes will be likely TV DVD buyers.

Collectors and completists won't be satisfied by piece-meal VOD. They are better served by the compact convenience of TV DVD.

While it may not always be the darling, TV DVD is going to be a big part of the industry for some time.

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