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2005 In Review Part 4: APRIL 2005

1 Jan, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Sony's PlayStation Portable, which launched in March, became a breakout hit in April.

Online rental champ Netflix hits a new milestone with the signing of its 3 millionth subscriber — representing an increase of about 400,000 subscribers since the start of the year.

The second annual Latino Home Entertainment Conference, also presented by Home Media Retailing, brings a packed house to the Wyndham Bel Age. Panelists call for a sustained flow of quality content and better trade marketing and retail exposure.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Blockbuster's largest individual shareholder, lashes out against chain CEO John Antioco for his compensation, for failing to take over Hollywood Entertainment Corp. and for refusing a request to postpone a May shareholder meeting. He threatens to attempt a takeover of the chain's board of directors if his complaints aren't addressed.

The National Association of Video Distributors returns to Santa Monica, Calif., for its annual conference, with more studio support than it has enjoyed in at least four years. NAVD president Bob Webb surmises the shelf-space crunch at the major chains is making studios take a second look at independent video rental stores and the distributors who serve them.

The success of Sony's PlayStation Portable appears to be dispatching Warner's Mini-DVD to also-ran status. Studios that had promised to support the Warner format are pulling back, and observers say the PSP seems likely to emerge the dominant handheld device to watch movies on the go.

Reports surface that Amazon.com is eyeing the lucrative online video rental market, considering a joint venture with market leader Netflix or rival Blockbuster Online to create a partnered online rental service.

The anticipated slowdown in DVD sales has yet to materialize. New figures from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group show more than 400 million DVDs were shipped to retailers in the first three months of 2005, up 21 percent from shipments in the first quarter of 2004. Meanwhile, VideoScan data shows DVD sales to consumers rose 20.5 percent in that same time frame.

Hollywood Entertainment Corp. shareholders approve the chain's merger with Movie Gallery. According to pro format statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the combined chain should generate $2.5 billion in annual revenue and provide nearly $83 million in profits.

Target Stores becomes the first major retail chain to announce plans to phase out VHS, with kidvid the last to go. By Sept. 1, studio sources tell Home Media Retailing, Target will effectively be out of the VHS business.

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