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April Showers Video Sales as DVD Dominates

1 Jun, 2004 By: Judith McCourt

Video sales picked up steam in April, as consumers continued to add to their DVD libraries. Spending registered $1.29 billion for the five-week period, up 9.5 percent compared to April 2003.

DVD sales registered $1.19 billion, a 22 percent increase from April 2003 after the adjustment for the five-week sales period. The up-tick in disc transactions was enough to offset plummeting cassette sales of $100.98 million, off 51 percent from $205 million in the same comparable period a year ago.

According to Nielsen VideoScan, April DVD unit sales — which do not include Wal-Mart figures — account for 91 percent of the overall units sold through to consumers. By comparison, in April 2003, discs accounted for 78 percent of the video product purchased at sellthrough.

Supporting the disc as the favored format is the growing presence of DVD devices in U.S. households. According to the DEG: Digital Entertainment Group, the number of U.S. households with DVD players is approaching the 70-million mark. Last year at this time, DVD playing capability was approaching the 50-million household mark.

A comparative look at the top 25 DVD sellers shows the growing number of consumers who would rather buy than rent — a primary driver in the continued strength of the sellthrough market. The top 25 selling DVDs in April sold on average 1.25 million units per title, 40 percent more than the top 25 DVD sellers for April 2003, which sold on average 750,000 units per release.

The difference in the consumer attraction to the Top 10 selling DVDs in April 2004 is even more pronounced. In April 2004, Video Store Magazine Market Research estimates that the top 10 selling DVDs sold on average 2.4 million units per title, 71 percent more than the 1.4 million discs per title for the bucket of Top 10 DVD sellers in April last year. And that's not even considering the “Harry Potter” factor, which played heavily into the DVD equation in April 2003 when the Potter disc sold an estimated 7 million DVD units.

Brother Bear, a Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) release, was the top seller in April 2004, with Video Store Magazine Market Research estimating combined sales of the Disney animated feature at 5.51 million units for the month. DVD sales accounted for 75 percent of the tally. By comparison, last year's top seller for the month, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sold almost 10 million units in its first month at the sales counter, with 70 percent of the total coming from DVD.

BVHE continued to dominate the sales counter, thanks to the depth of its release schedule and its domination of what's left of the cassette market. The supplier grabbed an estimated 20.5 percent, or $265 million, of the $1.29 billion spent by consumers for the month. Buena Vista claimed three spots on the Top 10 overall seller's list for the month. Although Buena Vista finished No. 2 in the DVD sweeps, it sold twice as many tapes as its next closest competitor, Warner Home Video.

Warner Home Video finished second with 19.8 percent of the take for the month. The supplier claimed two spots on the top 10 sellers list. The Matrix Revolutions (No. 2) sold 4.32 million units while New Line Home Entertainment's successful remake of the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sold 1.71 million units for the month.

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