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Day-and-date VOD/DVD Release May Boost Sales?

27 Jun, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Video dealers may see CinemaNow.com and Pioneer Home Entertainment's day-and-date release of the anime title Armitage Dual-Matrix to video-on-demand (VOD) and DVD as competition, but CinemaNow CEO Curt Marvis sees it as symbiosis.

“There is a clear argument here that it will only result in more sales of the DVD in traditional channels. It only creates more awareness and visibility for lesser titles that can be rented or purchased,” Marvis said, noting niche titles often get less exposure as video dealers struggle to find shelf space for them. “It could raise the number of people interested in this title. I think this is the beginning of exploration of things that will potentially help [DVD] titles.”

Nobody really knows the impact the simultaneous release will have, since this is the first time a major anime feature film release has premiered simultaneously on DVD and the Internet, much less free for its first 24 hours on the Internet.

“This is a one-off arrangement but what comes out of it will be affected by the outcome of this specific distribution,” Marvis said.

For Pioneer the tactic is a way to reach its audience without relying on traditional distribution to get it into fans' hands on street date.

“The DVD marketplace has taken off so massively in the last six or so months that you have the same kind of crowding that you have in other areas,” he said. “How can you differentiate your title from what others are doing?”

The supplier approached CinemaNow with the idea, seeking exposure for a niche that's often overlooked in the mainstream market.

"Pioneer Entertainment believes that the Internet can act as an effective marketing tool, especially for niche-oriented genres such as anime,” said Jill Sanderson, marketing consultant to Pioneer Entertainment. “CinemaNow provides us with the ideal outlet to securely deliver content to promote new and catalog releases."

For CinemaNow.com, the free offer is just a hook that Marvis hopes will bring more attention and traffic to the site. It will also help gauge the market for anime titles, which typically have been a small percentage of the fare offered at CinemaNow.

“We've looked at a variety of different anime catalogs. If this is a successful trial then that would be a natural line of discussion.”

Armitage Dual-Matrix, which features the voice of Juliette Lewis, is the followup to Armitage Poly-Matrix, a cult classic among anime enthusiasts. That film is available for stream or download through July 15 as either a pay-per-view selection or as part of CinemaNow's Premium Pass subscription.

Pioneer Entertainment will further promote the release with an aggressive marketing campaign that includes an online sweepstakes on the CinemaNow Web site featuring a Pioneer home entertainment system as the top prize package, cross-links between Pioneer's animation Web site (pioneeranimation.com) and the official Armitage franchise Web site (armitagedvd.com) to CinemaNow, as well as a targeted print campaign aimed at specialty and niche publications.

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