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February Unit Sales to Consumers Leap 31 Percent From 2002

27 Mar, 2003 By: Judith McCourt

February continued where January left off, with consumers scooping up video in record numbers that mirrored the strong performance of the rental market in February as consumers stayed close to home.

A cooperative slate of heavy-hitting new releases provided the fuel for a banner month at the sales counter. Unit sales registered a whopping 31.3 percent increase from the comparable four-week period in 2002, according to Nielsen VideoScan data.

Overall, DVD unit sales posted a 73 percent jump compared with the same four weeks in February 2002, and discs accounted for 76.4 percent of all units sold in the month. A look at the top 25 DVD sellers compared with the top 25 VHS sellers shows consumers favored discs by a margin of more than 3-to-1.

Cassette unit sales continued to decline, posting a 26.5 percent drop compared with last year. In February 2002, VHS made up 42 percent of all units sold, thanks to its dominance in the family and children's nontheatrical arenas. This year, the family action is on DVD. In the same month last year, 60 percent of all family titles purchased by consumers were VHS. This year, just 36.8 percent of all family titles sold in February were cassettes. Even children's nontheatrical fare is losing ground in cassette sales. In the same four-week sales period last year, 81 percent of the genre's sales came from cassettes. That dipped to 61.5 percent in February 2003.

The surprise theatrical hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the undisputed champion at the sales counter in February. HBO Home Video's Wedding sold 1.6 units at sellthrough for every unit of Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Sweet Home Alabama, the No. 2 finisher for the month. More than 75 percent of the top two finishers' unit sales came from disc. Taking the No. 3 spot for February was another Buena Vista offering, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams. The family flick got 62 percent of its sales from DVD.

Warner Wins February Market Share
Warner Home Video, which includes HBO, New Line and PBS releases, stomped the competition, grabbing a commanding 23.9 percent of the overall monthly unit tally. Warner placed first in the DVD market-share sweeps, with a 24.2 percent share, and second in the VHS sweeps, with a 22.9 percent share. Seventy-seven percent of the units sold by Warner in February were in the DVD format. Joining My Big Fat Greek Wedding in the winners' circle were Dinner With Friends and City by the Sea, which finished No. 12 and 13, respectively, in DVD sales.

Buena Vista, the January top finisher, dropped to No. 2 in the overall sweeps for February, with 19.7 percent of the units sold. Buena Vista claimed the top spot in cassette sales, with a 26.2 percent share and 11 of the top 25 cassette sellers in February. Adding support to the Buena Vista slate for the month and claiming a berth in the top five VHS sellers were 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch's London Adventure (No. 4) and Signs (No. 5).

On the DVD side of the equation, Buena Vista placed a distant second to Warner, with 17.8 percent of the disc unit sales share. For the month, Buena Vista tallied 69 percent of its unit sales in the DVD format.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment finished third, with 10.6 percent of the unit sales in February. For the month, 85 percent of the supplier's unit sales came from discs. Fox claimed three of the top 10 DVD sellers, with Brown Sugar (No. 6), One Hour Photo (No. 7) and X-Men 1.5 (No. 8).

Comedies Beat Action in Sales
Comedies, thanks to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, were tops with consumers. In all they accounted for one-third of all fare bought by consumers. Eighty percent of the comedies purchased were in the disc format.

Action/adventures dropped a notch to finish second in February, with 16.5 percent of the unit sales for the month. Dramas rounded out the top three genres.

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