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EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH: DVD Sales Level Off as Warner's Market Share Takes Off

30 May, 2002 By: Judith McCourt

DVD sales stabilized in April, accounting for 62.1 percent of the units sold, according to VideoScan data. The leveling off followed a swift ramp-up over the past 12 months during which DVD sales jumped from 30 percent of total sales in April 2001 to more than 60 percent of the total units sold through the first quarter of 2002.

Warner Home Video scooped the market share sweeps in April, with a top-place finish in units sold in both DVD and VHS. Warner finished the month with 21 percent of combined units sold. The supplier dominated DVD sales, with 21.6 percent of the DVD unit tally, and grabbed 19.9 percent of cassette sales. Of the total units Warner pushed through to the consumer in that period, almost two-thirds came from discs.

Warner's recent trend of releasing top hits at sellthrough in both DVD and VHS formats cemented the win. Supporting it were Thirteen Ghosts and Training Day, which both followed the recent Warner release strategy of sellthrough-priced releases. Thirteen Ghosts finished as the No.1 overall seller for the month.

In its first month of release, 81.8 percent of Thirteen Ghosts' sales came from DVDs. The title placed No. 2 on the DVD sellers' chart and No. 4 on the VHS sellers' chart for the month, but its overall sales were enough to make it April's top dog.

Training Day continues to show strong legs at the sales counter. It was released March 19, just in time to get a boost from Denzel Washington's Academy Award win for best actor. With a second place overall finish for April, the action/adventure pulled in almost three-quarters of its unit sales from DVD. Training Day finished April as the No. 3 DVD seller and No.2 cassette choice for the month.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment finished a distant second in unit sales for April. The supplier accounted for 12.5 percent of all unit sales to consumers for the month.

Buena Vista placed second in cassette sales, with 15.5 percent, and No. 3 in DVD sales, with 10.6 percent of the respective unit sales. In April, slightly more than 50 percent of Buena Vista's sales came from DVDs.

Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame II took top honors on the VHS sellers' chart in April. The direct-to-video sequel sold just 3 percent more than Training Day, the No. 2 finisher, which was released the same day. Disney titles scooped four spots in the top 10 VHS sellers and six in the top 25 for April. On the DVD side, Serendipity (No. 8) was the best performer at the sales counter for the supplier.

Universal Home Video, which includes DreamWorks, finished just behind Buena Vista, with 12.2 percent of overall unit sales in April. On the DVD side, the supplier grabbed 12.7 percent of disc sales to finish in the No.2 spot. Spy Game (No. 1) was Universal's top DVD seller.

DreamWorks' Shrek continued to be a favorite among consumers. The animated superseller, released Nov. 2, 2001, claimed the No.6 spot on the VHS sellers' chart and is the only 2001 release to chart in the top 10 April cassette sales.

Comedies kicked off the second quarter as consumer pleasers, accounting for 19 percent of combined DVD/VHS sales for the month. MGM's Bandits, released on DVD April 2, was the best performer for the genre in April. More than two-thirds of comedies sold in April were in the DVD format.

Dramas and action/adventures battled it out for the No. 2 and 3 spots, with dramas clinching a win with 17.7 percent of the tally. On the DVD side, Warner's Training Day (No. 3) turned in a solid showing. Spy Game was the top action grabber for the month, finishing No. 3 in overall sales.

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