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2007: Year in Review

4 Jan, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel


In April, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment said it had shipped more than 100,000 units of Casino Royale on Blu-ray Disc in North America.


January

? Citing consumer appeal for its Total Access online rental, in-store return service, Blockbuster Inc. says online rental subscribers topped the 2006 year-end goal of 2 million members. The company projects 4 million subs by end of 2007.

? Netflix launches “Watch Now,” a movie-streaming model for PCs. It ends 2006 having reached a goal of 6.3 million subscribers.

? Sony Computer Entertainment America says it shipped more than 1 million units of the PlayStation 3 video game console to North American retailers by the end of 2006.

? A Massachusetts federal court temporarily halts The Weinstein Co.'s plan to include an 800 number in the company's rental titles (distributed by Genius Products LLC) that are provided exclusively to Blockbuster Inc.

? Electronic sellthrough pioneer CinemaNow announces an updated alliance with Intel Corp. that allows consumers using PCs equipped with Intel Viiv technology the ability to legally burn movies to DVD discs for playback on standard DVD players.

? Hoping to better exploit its TV series, from classics such as “Star Trek” to current hits such as “Jericho” and “Criminal Minds,” CBS Corp. forms a DVD unit and licensing and merchandising division.

? Movie Gallery reports a net loss of $36.1 million for the period ended Oct. 1, 2006, compared to a $12.5 million loss in third-quarter 2005. The company acknowledges difficulties overcoming $1.1 billion in debt from its Hollywood Video acquisition.

February

? Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger says the studio sold 1.3 million feature film downloads on iTunes since October 2006.

? Sluggish sales of PlayStation 3 result in a $442 million operating loss for video game division Sony Computer Entertainment and drag down Sony Corp. profits 5% in the third quarter.

? Ad-supported online television and video is projected to generate $6.3 billion in revenue by 2012 — about 10 times the revenue in 2006, according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media.

? The DVD Release Report says there were 129 Blu-ray titles released to HD DVD's 140 in 2006. Through January, however, Blu-ray suppliers release almost double the number of HD DVD titles.

? Circuit City Stores says it will shutter seven superstores and one distribution center in the United States, in addition to 62 stores in Canada.

? Wal-Mart unveils a beta download movie service and Amazon announces a deal to put its Unbox service on TiVo's set-top box.

? MGM jumps into the direct-to-video business, hiring Jason Weiss to oversee a new division charged with the development and production of 12 or more films annually.? Movie Gallery refinances more than $1 billion in debt following a commitment with Goldman Sachs Credit Partners.

? YouTube.com removes about 100,000 clips of copyrighted Viacom programming, which includes MTV Networks shows and Paramount Pictures films. Viacom later sues YouTube parent, Google Inc., for copyright violations.

? Nine-store Video Depot of Palm Desert, Calif., opens a kiosk-only location, dubbed Video Depot 24/7.

? Lionsgate executives are upbeat regarding tests with Comcast in which movies are released simultaneously on video-on-demand and DVD. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based mini-major becomes the third studio to offer movie downloads on Apple's iTunes.

? Image Entertainment posts a third-quarter loss of $3.4 million, compared to income of $2.3 million during the same period the previous year.

? The Blu-ray Disc Association investigates claims a hacked Blu-ray version of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Ice Age: The Meltdown appeared on file-sharing network BitTorrent.

? Blockbuster Inc. says it will sell 29 company-owned Australian stores and master franchise rights to 341 licensed locations.

March

? Blockbuster CEO John Antioco reiterates to analysts that there will be more than 4 million Total Access subscribers by the end of the year.

? Paramount Pictures creates a direct-to-video film unit run by Louis Feola, former president of what is now Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

? The National Association of Video Distributors sends a letter to Genius Products complaining about its exclusive DVD rental release deal with Blockbuster Inc. on Weinstein Co. titles.

? Sales of adult-themed DVDs dropped 12% in 2006, to $3.86 billion, from $4.28 billion in 2005, according to data compiled by Adult Video News.

? Sony Corp. unveils a cheaper ($599) Blu-ray Disc player with 1080p resolution — $400 less than the original BDP-S1 at $999.

? Former peer-to-peer copyright pirate BitTorrent bows a legitimate download movie rental and TV episode purchase site.

? Movie Gallery purchases digital rental service MovieBeam for about $10 million.

? Viacom Inc. files a copyright infringement lawsuit seeking more than $1 billion in damages against Google Inc. and unit YouTube.

? No. 2 rental chain Movie Gallery completes restructuring of more than $900 million in debt.

? Revenue from pay-per-view, video-on-demand (VOD), downloads, mobile video and DVD is expected to surpass $277 billion by 2010, according to a study by iSuppli Corp.

? In what is billed as the first direct-to-video title on Blu-ray Disc, Lionsgate says it will release two “Ultimate Avengers” animated films on one disc.

? Pressed by internal research that finds an increasing number of its customers using online movie-rental services, Movie Gallery Inc. says it will launch an online rental service by the summer.

? Blockbuster Inc. chairman and CEO John Antioco says he is leaving the company by the end of the year.

? Seeking to usurp YouTube's social video networking dominance and better control dissemination of its own content online, NBC Universal and News Corp. say they will bow a Web-based video network.

? Bandai Visual USA, a subsidiary of Japanese-based anime creator Bandai Visual Co. Ltd., says will release its first HD DVD title, Freedom Vol. 1, in June.

April

? Sony Pictures Home Entertainment says it has shipped more than 100,000 units of Casino Royale on Blu-ray Disc in North America, just nine months after the optical-disc format was introduced.

? Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, says high-def packaged media is a niche product.

? Circuit City Stores Inc. posts a loss of $12.2 million for the fourth quarter, compared to income of $141.4 million during the same period the previous year. By comparison, Best Buy posts profit of $763 million for its fourth quarter, up nearly 18.5% from $644 million a year earlier.

? Sony cuts the price of the PlayStation Portable, lowering the cost of the unit from $200 to $170 and the list price of the PSP Entertainment Pack from $250 to $200. Sony also abandons the 20GB PlayStation 3 model.

? MGM adds a slate of movies to Apple's iTunes store, becoming the fourth major studio to sign with the service.

? Seeking to curtail a Chinese economy built in part on piracy, the United States files separate complaints with the World Trade Organization.

? Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says the company won't see much growth until Blockbuster raises the price of Total Access.

? Google says it is working on a system to filter out copyrighted content on YouTube.

? The HD DVD Promotions Group says sales of HD DVD players in the United States surpassed 100,000 units in the first year, making it the first stand-alone high-definition hardware to reach that milestone.

? Among first-quarter high-def discs sold year-to-date in 2007, 70% were Blu-ray Disc and 30% were HD DVD, according to Home Media Magazine's market research.

? Comcast Corp. says tests to simultaneously release movies on DVD and VOD continue to show promise.

? First-quarter software shipments and hardware sales both achieve record highs, says DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

? A 21% increase in packaged-media sales, which include movie DVDs, video games and software, helps Amazon more than double first-quarter income over Q1 2006.

? Panelists at the Milken Institute Global Conference say there are few methods of digital content delivery (outside illegal file-sharing) truly making an impact either in adoption or economics.

? Retail behemoth Wal-Mart quietly ramps up efforts to overcome its late arrival in high-def packaged media.

May

? Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau is given expanded duties and is put in charge of global digital activities as well as home entertainment.

? Blockbuster Inc. posts a first-quarter 2007 net loss of $46.4 million, compared to a $1.9 million loss during the same period a year before.

? Computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, which built and operates Wal-Mart's digital movie-download service, is reportedly working on a DVD-on-demand operation.

? Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger says that since September, ABC.com users have requested nearly 92 million ad-supported episodes of ABC fare. About 91 million episodes have been requested at Disney.com. He says 23.7 million TV episodes (ABC and Disney Channel) and 2 million movies have been sold on Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store since late 2005.

? Sony is upside-down on the PlayStation 3, taking a loss on the price of the platform and shipping 500,000 fewer than the expected 6 million units during the latest fiscal year.

? Theatrical distributors and suppliers looking for a leg up on home entertainment turn to a new 3-D process that, at least for now, cannot be duplicated in the home.

? Declaring Blockbuster Inc.'s Total Access a fiscal disaster, Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy tells investors the online movie rental pioneer's subscriber growth will continue to slow until Blockbuster raises its prices.

? Blockbuster beta-tests an e-commerce function on its Web site that lets users buy new and used DVDs.

? Warner Home Video says it is the first studio to sell more than 100,000 copies of a high-definition disc title (The Departed) and says the milestone was achieved because of its dual-format release strategy.

? A 21% drop in same-store sales of music CDs contributes to a $9.1 million quarterly loss for Trans World Entertainment.

June

? Lionsgate's 11,000-title DVD catalog generates revenue of $256 million, up 21% from the previous year, and helps the studio quadruple fiscal 2007 income.

? The Writers Guild of America says it is looking for a bigger piece of the DVD and digital pie and will strike if it doesn't get it.

? Sony Corp. offers a consumer incentive for the launch of its second-generation Blu-ray Disc player by cutting $100 from the previously suggested $599 retail price.

? Questioning the 15% to 20% margins studios earn from DVD rental, Warner Bros. executives tell separate investor groups they are testing releasing feature films on cable video-on-demand and DVD simultaneously.

? Apple's iTunes is reportedly in advanced discussions with several studios about launching an online film rental service.

? Blockbuster Inc. introduces Blockbuster By Mail, a mail-only plan with subscriptions starting as low as $4.99 per month for two rentals out at a time. The offer also includes a coupon for a free in-store movie or video game rental.

? NBC Universal Digital Studios is set to produce a series of exclusive webisodes revolving around classic movies for online Netflix.

? Blockbuster Inc. says it will offer only Blu-ray Disc titles among its high-definition rental selections at 1,700 company-owned stores. Longtime CFO Larry Zine says he will leave the company at the end of the year.

July

? Blockbuster Inc. and online rental rival Netflix Inc. reach a settlement to their 14-month-old patent lawsuit.

? Online movie rental revenue is expected to increase 41% to $1.9 billion in 2007, according to data from Adams Media Research.

? Warner Home Video's Happy Feet is the top-selling DVD released in the first six months of 2007, with sales of 8.6 million units, according to studio estimates and Home Media Magazine research.

? Movie Gallery says it has not met credit requirements due to poor second-quarter sales and suggests it will entertain a possible sale or merger.

? Blockbuster Inc. names James Keyes the company's new chairman and CEO. He is the former president and CEO of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain.

? The European Commission asks Hollywood studios to voluntarily explain their decisions to support Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD.

? Sony Computer Entertainment America lowers the price of the 60GB PlayStation 3 by $100 to $599 and promises a 80GB unit.

? Netflix Inc. says its PC-based streaming service topped 5 million streams.

? Home Media Magazine estimates consumer spending on video purchases slipped about 3% to $6.8 billion in the first half of 2007, down from $7 billion the previous year.

? The Entertainment Merchants Association's annual report on the home entertainment industry finds that mass merchants such as Wal-Mart and Target Stores continue to dominate the DVD sales market.

? Microsoft says it will cut the price of the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive from $200 to $180 starting Aug. 1.

? Target Stores says it will carry Sony's $499 Blu-ray Disc player as its exclusive high-definition home video system during the holidays.

? Online DVD rental pioneer Netflix Inc. reports its first drop in subscribers in the second quarter of fiscal 2007.

? New Line Home Entertainment's Stephen Einhorn is named president of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group; Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek is named chairman.

August

? Jeff Bewkes, president and COO of Time Warner Inc., says studios should embrace same-day DVD and VOD releases.

? Blockbuster Inc. enters the digital delivery market with the acquisition of online download service Movielink.

? Despite inconclusive results, News Corp. says its ongoing same-day VOD and DVD release tests with cable operators will expand into additional markets.

? The film 300 is the fastest-selling and highest-selling high-definition title ever, according to Warner Home Video. The studio says the title sold more than 250,000 copies on HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc combined since its July 31 release.

? Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, says $200 is the player price that will determine consumers' preference for Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD.

? Increased theatrical marketing costs result in a first-quarter loss of $53.1 million for Lionsgate, compared to a loss of $3.6 million during the same period the previous year.

? Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Onkyo bows the DV-HD805, becoming the third HD DVD supplier in the market after Toshiba and RCA.

? The Walt Disney Co. and The Baby Einstein Co. LLC demand the University of Washington retract and clarify a press release issued Aug. 6. The release touted a study that found watching baby DVDs may hinder infants' language development.

? Facing default proceedings with creditors and possible insolvency, Movie Gallery Inc. extends its forbearance agreement with lenders to Aug. 27.

? A 7% increase in same-store DVD sales can't help Trans World Entertainment Corp. offset poor music sales, and it posts a second-quarter loss of $10.1 million.

? Steve Nickerson, Warner Home Video's ubiquitous next-generation disc guru, leaves the company to pursue other opportunities.

? Paramount Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation vow exclusive support of HD DVD, a year after declaring they will release movies in both next-generation formats. Paramount says it will discontinue Blu-ray titles in release.

? With Movie Gallery stock trading below $1, the company receives two notices from Nasdaq saying it's not within filing requirements.

September

? A Warner Home Video study says 50% of respondents are uninterested in high-definition discs.

? Sony Pictures Home Entertainment projects 1 million Blu-ray Disc sales by the fourth quarter, boosted by the releases of Spider-Man 3 and Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

? Netflix Inc. says its PC-based streaming service topped 10 million streams — doubling since July.

? Sony drops the price of 80GB PS3 to $500 for holidays.

? Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vudu launches a 5,000-title service with a proprietary $399 set-top-box.

? Entering the high-definition disc market for the first time, New Line Home Entertainment says the 2007 musical version of Hairspray will be released on Blu-ray Disc and standard DVD Nov. 20 and on HD DVD at a later date.

? Citing internal policy, Wal-Mart Inc. says it will not do business with David Porter, a former VP and divisional merchandise manager newly hired to a similar position by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.

? Movie Gallery Inc. says missing separate interest payments to loan creditors won't trigger default proceedings.

? Former Warner SVP Steve Nickerson is named head of home entertainment at Summit Entertainment.

? The fourth-quarter DVD release slate is heralded as one of the best — if not the best ever — due to nearly 20% more box office power than the 2006 slate.

? Image Entertainment launches an urban division, One Village Entertainment, for theatrical, VOD, DVD and electronic distribution.

? The DVD Copy Control Association's decision to allow its Content Scramble System (CSS) software to be licensed spurs increases in companies seeking to offer Web-based downloads for DVD burning.

October

? HP signs 30 content providers with more than 4,000 movies for its download-to-burn service.

? Sony Computer Entertainment America announces it will bow a 40GB PlayStation 3 in the United States for $400 — $200 less than the 80GB unit.

? Strong third-quarter sales close the gap in year-to-date consumer DVD spending compared to 2006, resulting in a comparative 5% decline for the first three quarters.

? Movie Gallery Inc. files for bankruptcy protection, citing debt of more than $1.4 billion and assets of less than $890 million.

? 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Live Free or Die Hard DVD includes a digital edition that can be played on a computer and select portable video players.

? Netflix Inc. rebounds from its first ever decline in subscribers to report an increase of 286,000 members and profit of $15.7 million in Q3.

November

? Despite PlayStation 3 markdowns, Sony Corp. posts quarterly profit of $641 million.

? Blockbuster Inc. posts Q3 losses of $35 million, compared to a loss of $24.7 million during the same period the previous year. Revenue declines almost 6% to $1.24 billion.

? Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, says it plans to rollout DVD burning kiosks in 2008.

? Wal-Mart sells Toshiba's HD-A2 HD DVD player for $99 as part of a Web-announced “secret” pre-Black Friday sale — retailers' traditional day after Thanksgiving event.

? Striking screenwriters appear united in their resolve to extract a larger share of DVD and digital delivery revenue from major studios and media corporations.

? CinemaNow says it will use Sonic Solutions' movie download technologies to enable users to burn CSS-encrypted film to blank DVDs playable on standard DVD players and PCs.

December

? Trans World Entertainment CEO and chairman Robert Higgins offers to buy all outstanding company stock for $5 per share in an effort to take the retail giant private.

? Blockbuster Inc. says it is considering offering movie rental kiosks, which represent about 4% to 5% of the DVD rental market.

? Bankrupt Movie Gallery files a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Virginia seeking to reject a license agreement with Mark Wattles, founder of Hollywood Entertainment Corp.

? Sales of DVD players, especially upconverting models, total more than 600,000, trouncing sales of Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD players (57,000) during Thanksgiving week, according to a report from The NPD Group.

? Fox Home Entertainment reportedly eyes iPod movie rentals whereby users could select titles from Apple Inc.'s iTunes.

? Movie Gallery Inc. says in court filings that it plans to exit bankruptcy by the second quarter of 2008.

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