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A Watershed Year For TV DVD

22 Dec, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold



TV DVD is ending the year on a solid note, as one of the few categories in the now-mature DVD business that's still on a steep growth trajectory.

By the end of this year, consumers will have spent an estimated $3.3 billion on TV DVD, according to Home Media Retailing's market research department. Studio sources say the total could be as high as $4 billion, a quarter of the entire DVD business.

“It's the only category that's maintaining the double-digit growth rates we've gotten used to over the past four years with DVD,” said analyst Tom Adams of Adams Media Research. His company pegs TV DVD's growth this year at 20 percent or more, “which is phenomenal, particularly in a flattening market.”

This growth in TV DVD is both good and bad for the home entertainment business in general, Adams said. On the positive side, the higher price points help maintain profits as prices for theatrical catalog titles “and even fairly recent hits” sink to new lows, he said.

And yet he can't help but wonder whether all those “complete season” sets are eating up viewing time that used to be spent watching movies.

“Those are a lot of hours people are buying for $30,” Adams said, “as opposed to a two-hour movie for $20.”

The biggest TV DVD seller of the year was Paramount's Chappelle's Show: Season 2 Uncensored, with unit sales estimated at 2.84 million by Home Media Retailing.

Rounding out the top five: Buena Vista's Lost: The Complete First Season (1.04 million units); Sony Pictures' Seinfeld: Season 4 (860,000 units); 20th Century Fox's The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (830,000 units); and Warner's Friends: The Complete 9th Season (790,000 units).

Not surprisingly, the six major studios significantly upped their output of TV DVD this year, particularly during the late summer months, when they fielded a weak theatrical slate.

The most prolific studio supplier of TV DVD in 2005 was Warner, with 118 releases, up from 90 in 2004, according to The DVD Release Report. Next came Paramount, with 77 releases, up from 54 the year before, followed by 20th Century Fox (54, up from 40), Sony Pictures (50, up from 37), Universal Studios (40, up from 22) and Buena Vista (35, up from 22).

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